Dining Services Sustainability

American author Bruce Barton said, “sometimes when I consider what tremendous consequences come from little things, I am tempted to think there are no little things.”

UNT Dining Services understands that sustainability is about achieving a delicate balance between improving lifestyle choices, establishing a feeling of wellbeing and preserving natural resources.  Dining Services has established small yet impactful procedures, policies, and practices that accomplish these goals—fostering a sustainable food system at the 
University of North Texas.

“Little things” that Dining Services is doing to promote sustainability:

  • Purchasing from Local Sources is our preferred method for everything we use in our dining halls. By purchasing local we save money and reduce our carbon footprint. When we can’t find something from a local vendor we look for items made in Texas or the Southwest region.

  • A Prime Vendor is used for most of the purchasing on campus. By using a prime vendor we decrease the number of deliveries made to our dining facilities. This cuts down on pollution and saves fuel, which reduces our carbon footprint.

  • Great tasting Made-From-Scratch food is served in all of our dining halls. By serving good food, guests eat more and waste less. Making food from scratch not only improves the quality and taste of the food, but it reduces much of the waste associated with using canned and packaged convenience ingredients. The result has been a decrease in year-over-year purchasing by 11% allowing us to improve the quality of each meal and decrease waste at the same time.

  • Reusable China, Glassware & Cutlery is provided in all of our resident dining halls, Avesta restaurant and Verde catering. This effort decreases the amount of single use disposable waste going into the local landfills.

  • Fair Trade Certified Organic Coffee is used at Union and Discovery Park. We offer gourmet fair trade and certified organic coffees in a wide range of roast levels. Green Mountain is also available at the Wooten Hall ‘Go Café’ as well as our Dining Halls. Green Mountain’s organic processes meet the strict certification standards of both the USDA and OCIA. Additionally Green Mountain Fair Trade coffee beans are certified by TransFair—an organization dedicated to offering better trading conditions for producers and workers in developing countri

  • Recycle Mug Refill Program has been created to offer customers a discount when they use their own mug at any of our retail locations on campus. By using fewer paper cups we can lower costs to the customer and decrease waste going to our landfills.

  • Compostable Packaging and Cutlery: In 2009 UNT dining services partnered with Innoware packaging and replaced the “to-go” cutlery and packaging with a compostable substitute. The Eco- Expressions container meets the ASTM standards for compost ability as certified by the Biodegradable Products Institute. That means it biodegrades in a commercial compost facility completely within 60-180 days, without releasing any toxic residues. The containers are made from an annual renewable resource that is not tied to corn for main feedstock, it reduces environmental impact and the production process uses fewer fossil fuels and emits less carbon dioxide.

  • Electronic Record Keeping in our offices has allowed us to cut down on the amount of paper we use and saves on printer ink usage.

  • Recycling is a standard procedure at UNT Dining Services.  We recycle all cardboard and waste paper in all retail and resident dining locations.  Additionally, we have recycle bins located near all of our dining facilities that encourage guests to recycle their glass, plastic and aluminum containers.

  • “Green” Chemical Line is a safe, sustainable and earth-friendly program. Our chemicals are concentrated solid formulations that are provided in innovative packaging and dispensing methods, which means less use of water and energy, a significant decrease of harsh chemicals and waste released into the environment and a tremendous reduction of transportation costs associated with bulky chemicals.

  • Water Conservation is a top priority at UNT Dining Services.  In our facilities, all of the dishwashing machines have a special nozzle that regulates water usage and monitors our monthly dishwashing cycles so that we maximize the efficiency of our activity and decrease water usage. Additionally, the ice machines used in the Dining Halls are air-cooled instead of water-cooled. Most water-cooled ice machines use a once-through cooling system, where the water used to cool the machine is subsequently dumped down the drain. The switch to air-cooled machines saves about 12 million gallons of water every year.

  • Compostable Packaging and Cutlery: In 2009 UNT dining services partnered with Innoware packaging and replaced the “to-go” cutlery and packaging with a compostable substitute. The Eco- Expressions container meets the ASTM standards for compost ability as certified by the Biodegradable Products Institute. That means it biodegrades in a commercial compost facility completely within 60-180 days, without releasing any toxic residues. The containers are made from an annual renewable resource that is not tied to corn for main feedstock, it reduces environmental impact and the production process, uses fewer fossil fuels and emits less carbon dioxide.

  • Trayless Dining Halls and Retail locations: Dining Services has eliminated the use of trays in 3 of our dining halls and all of our retail locations. By removing trays, we decrease food waste, conserve water and energy and reduce the use of cleaning chemicals. Removing trays reduces food waste by 25-30% per person and conserves almost 1900 liters of water annually (Business and Cultural Acceptance Case for Trayless Dining, 2008).

  • Recycled Napkins: All of our retail and resident Dining Halls use recycled paper napkins made from chemical free post consumer recycled paper.

  • Sustainability partnerships and education makes us more effective in our efforts. This year Dining Services was selected as the sustainability department of the year! By partnering with sustainability groups on campus we create new ways to save resources by educating our guests on ways they can help reduce, reuse and recycle.