SMCC dining services gets greener with reusable food containers

Sodexo Dining Services has gotten greener by utilizing reusable food containers as part of SMCC’s commitment to sustainability.

Students and employees who place to-go orders from Oceanview Dining Hall now receive their food in green clam-shell containers that are made out of BPA-free polypropylene — a material that’s soft, light and easy to clean.

When people return the container during a future visit, they can either take a new container for a new food order or a green carabiner — an oblong metal ring commonly used in mountain climbing — to show they have returned the container. The carabiner can then be used to check out a new container the next time a to-go order is placed.

The new containers replace disposable to-go containers that were made of a compostable material, said Marcos Carrillo, Sodexo’s Executive Chef at SMCC.

“We were finding that many of the containers were ending up in the garbage, which is counter-productive to the compostable nature of the product,” Carrillo said. “In light of this, we decided that a reusable container would have a larger positive impact than compostable disposable containers that were ending up in a landfill as opposed to a composting facility.”

The use of reusable food containers is part of SMCC’s overarching commitment to environmental sustainability.

The college practices sustainability in its use of lighting controls, energy audits, recycling and an ocean water heat exchange system. The college has electrical vehicle charging stations on its South Portland Campus, and students ride public buses for free to reduce the college carbon footprint.

SMCC Dining Services and the Culinary Arts program compost their food waste, and the South Portland Campus has more than a dozen natural “no-mow zones” that are not mowed in an effort to save energy, reduce pollution and enhance wildlife habitat.