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Penn State Dining Temporarily Suspends Green2Go Program

Penn State Residential Dining has temporarily suspended its Green2Go service due to the coronavirus pandemic, the university officially announced earlier this week.

Penn State said it suspended the reusable takeout container service, as well as reusable bottles and shopping bags, in order to comply with federal public health guidelines. The university felt managing reusable containers wouldn’t be feasible while prioritizing customer and employee safety.

“Because the Green2Go program required multiple, close interactions and hand-offs between customers and cashiers, our team decided to pause the program in order to best promote the health and safety of our customers and staff,” Dining said.

The Centers for Disease Control’s guidelines call for takeout food to be served in single-use disposable items. Currently, Penn State is offering its takeout using styrofoam boxes, single-use silverware, and drinks such as bottled waters and cartons of milk.

Dining has received criticism for its use of styrofoam and plastic, which are notoriously hard or impossible to recycle. Penn State said it considered switching to compostable service ware but couldn’t effectively commit to doing so because its composting facility couldn’t handle such a high volume of waste.

Although the environmentally friendly programs are currently suspended, Penn State said it wil lcontinue working to focus on sustainability as the pandemic ease up.

“The University remains committed to sustainability, and we are hoping to bring our reusable program back in some form as soon as the situation allows,” Dining said. “In the meantime, we are taking this opportunity to rebrand, redesign and rethink the program ahead of its eventual return.”

Penn State Dining hopes to revamp Green2Go and rebrand it into a more “accessible, convenient, and robust” program The university plans to improve the service’s operations by barcoding containers to track them, eliminate the service’s $5 deposit, and integrate it into Penn State’s mobile ordering app.

“Once conditions permit, we hope to launch the new program,” Dining said.

Penn State took several steps to improve sustainability in recent years by eliminating plastic bags in on-campus stores and streamlining residence hall composting services. Although the university’s backtracking is a bit disappointing, Penn State says it’s committed to focusing on sustainability when it can and knows students are eager to see it return.

“We are thrilled that there is still great interest [in on-campus sustainability],” Dining said in an email.

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt proudly served as Onward State’s managing editor for two years until graduating from Penn State in May 2022. Now, he’s off in the real world doing real things. Send him an email ([email protected]) or follow him on Twitter (@mattdisanto_) to stay in touch.

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