Columbus, OH

Dining halls switch to reusable to-go boxes

The Lantern
To-go containers sit and wait to be used outside of Kennedy Commons dining hall as a green alternative to the disposable boxes. Credit: Lily Hynes | Assistant Photo Editor

Ohio State students looking to take food on the go now have a greener option, in all senses of the word.

Dining Services eliminated the disposable to-go boxes at all three Traditions dining halls and replaced them with green, reusable plastic containers in an effort to reduce waste this semester. Dave Isaacs, spokesperson for the Office of Student Life, said Ohio State has been planning this shift to sustainability for a few years after testing them on a smaller scale last semester.

“We’ve always been at the forefront of sustainability, and we do both as a university and in Dining Services a great deal in this area,” Isaacs said. “We plan to upcycle our retired containers when they break or have outlived their use on campus.”

With the introduction of reusable boxes, Isaacs said Ohio State has eliminated the need for 15,000 single-use containers and prevented more than 1,500 pounds of waste from entering landfills.

The system relies on Grubhub to assign each student a QR code, which coordinates with a box the student will then pick up from the dining hall to pack their food.

Once students finish their food, they must return the box to a designated return spot on campus. If the student does not return the box within three days, they will then be charged an $8 late fee on their student accounts, according to Dining Services.

Hanna Greer-Brown, communications manager of the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio, said they applaud schools and businesses for prioritizing sustainability.

“It just takes a really long time for things to decompose and break down [in landfills], and so if we can just avoid sending stuff to the landfill in the first place, that’s a big win for our community,” Greer-Brown said.

Isaacs said that they hope to expand the reusable container program and spread to more dining locations. If students have issues, they can contact Dining Services at

“That’s how we learn to make the system better – is when we hear concerns,” Isaacs said.

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