Dining services implement new eco-friendly initiatives

In accordance with the University of Miami’s environmental program, the on-campus dining halls have begun to take measures to be more environmentally friendly by buying locally-grown produce and antibiotic-free pork, administrators said.

These changes are part of Green U, a program designed to minimize the university’s ecological energy expenditures and wastefulness. It includes recycling programs and the use of biodiesel fuel.

Mel Tenen, vice president of Auxiliary Services, said UM has taken several steps to make the dining halls more “eco-friendly.”

Chartwells, the university’s food service provider, currently buys locally-grown tomatoes, peppers, watermelons and oranges. Locally-grown produce is beneficial to the environment because less carbon is emitted during transportation.

Also, only seafood that is considered sustainable by Seafood Watch, a program that raises consumer awareness about seafood sustainability, and cage-free whole eggs are purchased and used for cooking.

Tenen said the cooks carefully measure the ingredients of all the food served in the dining halls so that none is wasted, but also noted that leftover food on students’ plates and in the kitchen is eventually thrown away.

“It’s up to students to be responsible by taking the food they want and wanting the food they eat,” Tenen said.

The university is currently exploring options to manage food waste via composting – the decomposition of biodegradable organic matter – which allows for less garbage production. These changes may take place within a year, Tenen said.

Other campuses in the United States, such as the University of Colorado at Boulder, which implemented their first recycling program in 1976, have successfully used food composting.

“Composting has real potential for reducing solid waste disposal costs,” said John DeBell, recycling representative at the University of Colorado at Boulder. “We’ve been able to compost about 120 tons of food waste a year for the past four years.”

Composting also improves soil structure and reduces methane gas from landfills by keeping their size down. Reduced methane decreases the likelihood of water pollution and has fewer effects on global warming.

Bill Gerdts, a sophomore, thinks the university is making significant strides in trying to be more environmentally friendly.

“I think UM tries hard to promote the green issues,” he said. “But I think it’s the students that don’t make an effort to recycle.”

Anthony Minerva may be contacted at a.minerva@umiami.edu.