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Issue Date: Vol. 48, No. 8, August 2008, Posted On: 8/8/2008

Aramark Study Suggests Campuses Support Dining Operations Without Trays

Emily Jed

PHILADELPHIA — Two nationwide research studies conducted by Aramark Higher Education indicate that customers are ready to accept trayless dining in an effort to support environmental stewardship. Aramark estimates that 50% to 60% of its 500 campus partners will forego trays in their dining halls in the upcoming school year.

Trayless dining, according to Aramark, reduces an institution’s environmental footprint by decreasing waste and conserving natural resources. Economically, the elimination of trays reduces the cost of energy, water, cleaning agents and waste removal. The initiative supports a growing desire among the colleges and universities Aramark serves to minimize waste and conserve natural resources through recycling, energy management and sustainable food programs.

In one study, Aramark measured food wasted from more than 186,000 meals served at over 25 higher education institutions during the academic year. The managed service leader found that food waste quantity was reduced by 1.2 ozs. to 1.8 ozs. per person per meal when trays were removed from dining facilities. This represents a 25% to 30% reduction in food waste per person.

In a complementary study, Aramark surveyed more than 92,000 students, faculty and staff at 300 institutions across the country to gauge their support of tray removal. Seventy-nine percent of the respondents said they would support trayless dining, countering the belief that tray removal would not be accepted due to inconvenience or customer dissatisfaction.

The research was released as part of a paper titled The Business and Cultural Acceptance Case for Trayless Dining. The paper features case studies of several campuses that piloted trayless dining and also provides guidelines and tips on how to successfully implement a trayless dining program.

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