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The mission of Northwestern Dining is to educate students, engage the community, and enrich the Northwestern experience by offering one of the most unique and pioneering campus meal programs in the nation.

Recycling, Waste Reduction & Composting

Waste Reductions

  • Sleeve a Message Coffee Sleeves
    • These sleeves are made from 90% post-consumer recycled material and printed with only 100% recyclable water-based inks. Sleeve a Message and Northwestern Dining, powered by Sodexo, have created a partnership three years in the making for a sustainable tree planting coffee sleeve program at Northwestern University. Sleeve U, a product offering from Sleeve a Message, plants a tree for every 7,000 coffee sleeves Northwestern Dining purchases to off-set their carbon footprint. During the 2013-2014 academic year, Northwestern Dining planted 15 trees simply by purchasing coffee sleeves. Read more about it on our blog
  • Plant Package Beverages
    • We sell Dasani and Odwalla beverages that use PlantBottle packaging and are 100% recyclable. The process of making these bottles results in zero deforestation and less environmental damage.
  • Napkins
    • Our napkins are made of 100% recycled paper fiber, which has a significantly lower material intensity than virgin paper. By using these napkins we have saved over 300,000 gallons of water and reduced CO2 emissions by 97%. Our Tork one-at-a-time napkin dispensers ensure that patrons use fewer napkins and touch only the napkin they use, improving personal hygiene and providing up to a 25% reduction in napkin usage.
  • Cups & Soup Bowls
    • Willie's Food Court has eliminated the black foam eat-in plate and Styrofoam soup bowls. We now use sustainable paper boats, potato-ware plates and eco-friendly soup bowls that are made from recycled paper with a corn starch based lining on the inside.
    • All resident and retail locations have switched from Styrofoam to go cups to more sustainable paper to go cups.
    • Our Reusable Container Policy encourages students to use reusable containers when getting refills on both regular and specialty coffee as well as fountain drinks by offering them a discount. 
Water & Energy Reductions
  • Trayless Dining
    • We have gone to tray-free dining in 5 of our 6 Dining Halls, by doing so we can reduce the amount of food waste by roughly one ounce per plate. Going trayless has saved Northwestern Dining 200 gallons of water for every 1,000 meals served! 
    • Washing one tray uses 1.5 KW of electricity. By going trayless, Northwestern Dining reduces its energy consumption and carbon footprint, and saves hundreds of dollars in electricity spending per day. Trayless dining therby prevents excess grease and detergents from being washed down drains and reduces food waste by encouraging students to take only what they can carry and eat.
  • Composting
    • Composting is the latest effort to reduce the amount of waste we send to the landfill. Composting provides a more environmentally friendly use for our food waste that cannot be donated, like preparation scraps and plate leftovers, as well as our paper waste, like napkins and paper cups.
    • We compost in all six of our Resident Dining Halls as well as the Norris Center. Northwestern Dining is not only trying to play their part, but we are making an effort to educate students, staff and faculty on the benefits of composting by providing lists at all our sites of what is/not compostable. 
  • Cooking oil reuse
    • Chicago Biofuels collects and filters our used cooking oil, then Loyola's Clean Energy Program converts it into biodiesel. Every week, 100 gallons of this biodiesel are used in our Free Enterprise shuttle buses! They glycerin byproducts of the process are turned into soap that is used at Loyola, and the entire operation supports research to support other ways to generate renewable energy from traditional waste materials. 
    • We also provide used cooking oil to Northwestern University in order to conduct research.
  • Ecolab soaps and cleansers
    • We purchase our cleaning supplies from Ecolab to minimize application of harmful chemicals. The Wash 'n Walk floor cleanser that we use in our kitchens is completely biodegradable and requires no rinsing, thereby saving 10-20 gallons per application!
  • Meatless Options
    • On average, meat takes many more resources to produce and serve. Going meatless once a week can also help reduce our carbon footprint and save precious resources like fossil fuels and fresh water. The dining halls take part in MeatLESS Monday, while still providing meat options, Mondays feature a wider variety of meatless options as an ongoing program. We offer a wide selection of Vegetarian, Vegan and Gluten Free options at every meal. Twice we have been recognized as Peta2's Most Vegetarian Friendly College. 
Northwestern University | Dining Services | 600 Haven Street | Seabury, first floor | Evanston, IL 60208 | tel. (847) 491-2020 | Contact Us