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Green2Go Program To Revamp After Tough Semester

The Green2Go container program, Penn State’s environmentally friendly alternative to Styrofoam carryout containers, expected to serve as a cost-efficient way to mitigate the effects of waste output caused by the old containers in the dining commons on campus. Unfortunately, the initiative hasn’t gone according to plan.

The program utilizes a reusable container that can be carried out with a meal from any of the five dining commons. The Green2Go container is available for purchase from the cashier at the entrance to the dining commons for $5. When you’re done with the box, you can return it for a carabiner, which can be exchanged for either a refund or a new fresh box.

The Green2Go program first launched in Spring 2014 after Pollock Dining Commons piloted the eco-friendly switch from Styrofoam. Since then, the program has extended to all dining commons on campus — even becoming the only carryout option in South Food District at the start of the fall semester.

8,000 Green2Go containers were used during the first semester, but of those 8,000, only 1,100 were returned. The containers not returned likely have ended up “under the bed or in a landfill,” said Jim Richard, Interim Director of Residential Dining. “That’s not the point of the program.”

With the program in a state of flux, Penn State needed to head back to the drawing board.

Green2Go will continue, but with some revamping. The choice to use the Green2Go container will once again become voluntary, and the signs around South Food District advertising the Green2Go container as the only option are expected to come down in the next week.

“Those using the container are the ones who believe in the program,” said Jim Meinecke, Residential Dining Coordinator. “Some don’t mind paying $5 each time to get a container.”

There wasn’t a problem in the past with containers not being returned in Redifer when there were both reusable and Styrofoam, but switching solely to Green2Go containers may have forced those without interest in the program to use them. The program’s directors believe the switch back to voluntary usage will increase return rates.

The containers will not see a decrease in use in the other dining halls on campus. In fact, Green2Go is looking for an expansion in the near future into the à la carte services such as the Big Onion in East or North’s Bluespoon Market.

Even with the option to not use the Green2Go container, Styrofoam containers won’t be used at South or any other dining halls on campus starting in Fall 2016. Instead, the commons will search for a more eco-friendly material to use in their non-reusable containers to promote this green initiative.

Despite early hiccups, Richard and Meinecke have high hopes for the program’s future.

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About the Author

Steve Connelly

Unfortunately, former editor Steve Connelly has graduated. Where is he now? He might be doing something related to that PR degree he got in 2019. Maybe he finally opened that sports bar named after one of his photos, the Blurry Zamboni. Or he might just be eating chicken tenders and couch surfing. Anything’s possible. If you really want to know, follow him on Twitter @slc2o.

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