Modern interior of cafeteria or dining hall with chairs and tables

The University of Northern Colorado has made its trial program of green reusable to-go boxes in its dining halls permanent — with one twist: Students must pay $5 for their own box, according to an article on the UNC Mirror website. 

The students take a green box and bring it in and exchange it for a new one when they’re done. If a student forgets his or her box, he or she can receive a keychain clip from the dining halls. This system eliminated the need for students to carry their boxes everywhere.

If a student doesn’t have a carabiner or a box, he or she will have to either eat in or buy another box. Students can keep their boxes through the end of the academic year and bring them back next year.

Although the program is designed to drastically reduce waste on campus, the cleaning process for these new to-go boxes is extensive and specific, the article said.

The boxes are first covered in a special soap called Respond Solid to help break up food particles. Next, they go through the rinsing processes and then through the heat sanitation to eliminate any remaining bacteria or pathogens.

Health code requires that the boxes (and dining hall dishes) are heated up to 160 degrees. The water at UNC is heated up to 180 degrees.

After that, the boxes go through the blower to dry. If at that point the boxes aren't cleaned completely, they are washed separately through a quick wash, rinse and sanitation process using a standard disinfectant sanitizer.

In addition to this program, the university has eliminated plastic straws from the dining halls. According to reports, sustainability is the driving force behind both these initiatives.

Click here to read the full article.