Waste Minimization and Energy Conservation

We are continuously seeking ways to minimize the amount of waste produced on campus and increase the overall efficiency of our operations through several initiatives. Whether we are tackling plastic reduction or minimizing food waste, we take a “one small action at a time” approach believing that these small individual actions create greater change. 

Bite-sized meal changes are a positive step toward a more sustainable future.


Food Waste and Recovery

Food waste reclamation has been part of our program since 1993. Food waste was diverted to pig farms and has evolved over time to our current program where pre-consumer and post-consumer food scraps are hauled to a recycling and renewable energy company in Trenton, NJ that produces biogas, compost, and fertilizer through anaerobic digestion.

Our food harvest program began in the fall of 2018 with Butler and First dining halls, and it now includes Forbes and Rockefeller and Mathey. Through our partnership with the Food Donation Connection our surplus food is shared with our harvest partner Bentley Community Services.


Waste Oil

Fryer oil has been recycled since 2009 by licensed EPA recyclers in Pennsylvania. The recycled oil is sold as biodiesel and renewable diesel production.


By the Numbers

  • Food waste 455.5 tons for compost and 3.94 to campus as lab SCRAP Lab.
  • 18,158 pounds of cooking oil collected and recycled for biodiesel.
  • 3.73 tons of food donated to those in need through the food harvest program.


Trayless Dining

Since 2009, dining halls have been tray free resulting in decreased food waste and increased water and energy savings due to less dishwashing. Savings were also realized by not purchasing and replacing plastic trays. Removing trays from dining halls was the first effort in plastic reduction.


Reusable and Compostable Service Ware


Campus Dining provides reusable service ware for all residential dining halls. 


Reusable service ware has been reintroduced in the Frist Campus Center retail outlet where the default option is reusable with a few exceptions. Disposables are only available upon request.

While reusable is the preferred choice, Campus Dining provides compostable plates, bowls, and napkins for many menu items served “to-go” in retail operations. These items are compostable on our campus at the S.C.R.A.P. Lab in-vessel composter.


Campus Dining Catering has created innovative options that make reusables the more attractive option. Princeton Catering offers breakfast cottage jars served in reusable Mason jars.


Daylight Dining

Daylight dining was established in 2011 as a way to conserve energy by turning the lights off on sunny days, when supplemental lighting is not needed. Lighting scenarios were subsequently installed to provide different levels of lighting determined by the time of day.


Plastic Reduction

In summer of 2018, Campus Dining announced a plan to join in a campaign with the United Nations Environment Programme to dramatically reduce the amount of plastic used in our operations. 

  • Plastic water bottles have been replaced with aluminum cans from a Climate Neutral Certified and Women Owned company.
  • Plastic bags have been replaced by paper bags and will only be available upon request.
  • Plastic straws have been eliminated and paper straws will only be available upon request.
  • Plastic utensils replaced by compostable utensils.
  • Campus Dining’s year-end employee celebrations in June are completely free of single-use disposable plastic.

These are the first steps in a long-term commitment to #BeatPlasticPollution.


Green Restaurant Association Certification

Rockefeller/Mathey and Forbes College dining halls have attained Green Restaurant Certification. 

“The Green Restaurant Association’s (GRA) standards reflect 29 years of research in the field of restaurants and the environment. The purpose of the GRA standards is to provide a transparent way to measure each restaurant’s environmental accomplishments while providing a pathway for the next steps each restaurant can take towards increased environmental sustainability” in the following areas:

  1. Water Efficiency
  2. Waste Reduction and Recycling
  3. Sustainable Durable Goods & Building Materials
  4. Sustainable Food
  5. Energy
  6. Reusables & Environmentally Preferable Disposables
  7. Chemical and Pollution Reduction
  8. Transparency & Education