In another step towards meeting Macalester’s goal of becoming Zero Waste by 2020, student organizations, faculty and staff will now be able to order compostable dishware for wholesale prices as the result of an initiative from MCSG, Mailing and Business Services and the Sustainability Office. The idea, initially brought up in MCSG last semester, finally came to fruition this past week.
Part of the reason for making compostable dishware available campus-wide came from concerns around the amount of disposable dishware used at the events that different orgs put on.
“At the beginning of the school year, MCSG received an additional allocations bill for $120 in disposable dishware for Little Scots for a series of events with food they were hosting,” said student representative and Sustainability Task Force member Rick Beckel ’15. “Little Scots is a great group, and MCSG wants to support events like this, but MCSG also has a role to play in helping Macalester meet its Zero Waste by 2020 goal.”
The then-nascent Sustainability Task force began to search for ways to require organizations using the student activity fee to also use compostables for their events. However, smaller amounts of compostable dishware proved to be both harder to come by and more expensive.
“We finally determined that it made more sense for us to order compostables in bulk and distribute them at wholesale prices to student orgs,” Beckel said. “When we started reaching out to others on campus, we found there was a demand for a centralized system that everyone … had access to.”
MCSG also received input from the Sustainabilty Office, Purchasing, and Campus Operations and Activities, and are working closely with Mailing Services to ensure that the initiative runs smoothly.
“Mailing Services/Loffler is the major player in the program, so we’re super excited they were on board,” Beckel said, adding that the Mailing Services office will be tracking and fulfilling all requests. “[They] will bring the orders to departments or have them available for pickup at the mailing services window for orgs, hopefully within 24 hours.”
The dishware will be purchased from Minneapolis company Litin Paper and is available to anyone on campus via a Google Form. The form allows those in need of compostables to specify the type and quantity of dishware that they need. Student orgs will be able to pay using the FOAPAL that is linked to their specific organization.
Starting next semester, the Financial Affairs Committee will also stop supplying funding for disposable dishware, and the Sustainability Office will no longer have to process requests from orgs and departments looking for compostables.
“This new program will be a win-win-win,” Beckel said. “[It] saves buyers money [since] MCSG doesn’t have to allocate funds to every student org on campus for disposable dishware in small amounts, it’s convenient (departments can order exactly the amount they need for their office or specific events via google form), and it promotes more widespread use and knowledge of the composting program at Mac.”
“The hope is that eventually we’ll do away with styrofoam/plastic dishware completely,” he said.