New Study Finds College Cafeteria Trays Can Increase Both Dish Use and Food Waste

food waste photo

Photo: Nick Saltmarsh

It's no secret that food waste is a big issue in this country. Lloyd wrote about a study at Alfred University, where food and beverage waste dropped between 30 and 50 percent, totaling 1,000 pounds of solid waste and 1123 gallons of liquid waste every week. But according to a new study done in the Environmental Studies Department at American University, not only is food waste reduced but the amount of dishes used is as well.
The Seminar in Environmental Issues class at American University recently conducted a study that found that students that did not have cafeteria trays available in the lunchroom wasted 14.4 percent less food than those that did at lunch and a remarkable 47.1 percent less at dinner. The other part of the study measured the reduction in dishes used for those with and without trays. The study found a 22.5 percent reduction in dishes used at lunch and a 30.8 percent reduction in dishes used at dinner. This makes perfect sense when you consider how much your bare hands can load up on versus what can fit on a tray.

The 6 week long study was carried out by randomly choosing 30 students at the beginning of lunch and dinner and giving some trays and removing the trays for others. Afterwards the food waste and dish use was evaluated.

Food Waste Outside of the Cafeteria
Really getting a grasp on the issue means controlling food waste at home as well. I recently discussed on Planet Green easy ways to slow your food waste at home, including finding interesting uses for your leftovers like using a little creativity to make many a meal from last night's old news. Or throwing over-ripe produce into a smoothie or a juicer. You can also decide to be flexible when you cook so that you don't buy 20 items for one simple recipe. Food thrown away is money wasted and in this age of penny pinching, this sort of waste seems intolerable.

More on Food Waste:
Seattle Could Recycle Food Waste
Study Finds Half of All Food Produced Worldwide is Wasted
Mexico City To Compost Food Waste From Central Food Market