Sustainable Containers Used Widely at UW

July 6, 2010

For the past several years, UW Residence Life & Dining Services has used new compostable containers, cups, utensils, napkins and other compostable items at dining locations across campus.

The compostable dinnerware breaks down fully at a composting facility in 45 to 120 days. Regular plastic never fully breaks down, even at a composting facility.

The City of Laramie has developed a compost facility; however, the facility is not accepting compostable dinnerware at this time.

"Even if these items are not composted, they are still more eco-friendly than regular plastic cups because they are made from renewable and recycled resources, require much less energy to produce, minimize the use of virgin materials (materials made new each time rather than recycled from previous materials) and release less carbon dioxide into the air during production," says Jill Lovato of the Campus Sustainability Committee.

Campus dining locations carry two types of eco-friendly, compostable cups: Eco-Products, based out of Fort Collins, Colo., and the Thomas Hammer Eco-Cup.

Campus-made sushi, soup, sandwiches and salads are sold in Eco-Products containers made from plant starches (such as corn) and plant-based plastics.

Some items, such as to-go boxes for the Washakie Dining Center or Ross Dining Hall, are made from sugar cane stalk left over after the sugar is extracted.

Items such as paper plates and Pepsi cups aren't currently compostable, but are made from recycled materials. Panini boxes at Rolling Mill Café are made from 100 percent recycled paper.

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