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March 28, 2012
CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine:
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‘Trayless Tuesdays’ conserve energy, reduce waste

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – The Moody Blues scored a hit with “Tuesday Afternoon.” Author Mitch album turned “Tuesdays with Morrie” into a bestseller, and Slippery Rock University is reducing waste and saving money in energy costs through “Trayless Tuesdays.”
     The program, made permanent last Tuesday after a soft monthly implementation over the past couple years, eliminates the use of food trays every Tuesday in Boozel Dining Hall during breakfast, lunch and dinner.
     “Tuesdays are one of our biggest days,” said Jeff McTaggart, director of dining services for AVI Fresh, SRU’s contracted food vendor.
      The program is another example of the University’s leadership and commitment to sustainable practice. On the first Tuesday, going trayless reduced food waste 425 pounds, water consumption 700 gallons and detergent use five pounds, McTaggart said.
       Boozel’s energy usage dropped 317 KWH and food waste by 20-25 percent, said Mary Deemer, SRU assistant sustainability officer.
      “The reduction in solid waste and energy use reduces our greenhouse gas emissions, getting us closer to our goal of zero waste and carbon neutrality,” she said.
     Scott Albert, director of facilities and planning, said SRU pays $5.29 cents per KWH for electricity, which means every trayless day reduces costs $16.76 a day. Going trayless also counts towards the University’s Sustainable Tracking Assessment Rating System score and is recommended in the University’s forthcoming Climate Action Plan.
      McTaggart said Boozel made the program permanent on Tuesdays to heed SRU’s Energy Action Pledge calling for taking small steps to reduce the carbon footprint.
     He said 3,000 people eat at Boozel on a typical Tuesday – 400 at breakfast, 1,400 for lunch and 1,200 for dinner. Consumption is reduced by not having to wash all those trays. Diners also tend to take less food when they can’t load it all onto a tray.
      “They are taking plates and glasses, only what they can carry,” he said. “With a tray, they are carrying excessive stuff, so we’re actually having less waste.” 
       If the program goes well, it may be expanded in the fall to make every day trayless, McTaggart said, adding that it provides an opportunity to educate students about sustainable practice.
      “It’s our job not just to become more sustainable but also to educate our students about it,” he said. “You also need to tell them what we have accomplished by taking away those trays. You shouldn’t just take away trays for our benefit.”
      Boozel has implemented several strategies for recycling, reducing costs and promoting sustainable practice. It reduced napkin consumption 50 percent by making napkins available at the table rather than a central location. Napkins are also made from 100 percent post-consumer materials. Boozel offers eco-clam shell containers at Boozel Xpress that can be purchased and are dishwasher safe.
     Sustainability is implanted in food options and preparation as well. Boozel practices batch cooking, which reduces food waste, and donates food scraps to the gardens at the Robert M. Macoskey Center for Sustainable Systems Education and Research, McTaggart said.
      In April, Boozel will offer sustainable snacks, including pretzels with packaging made from a minimum of 50 percent of post-consumer recycled content, McTaggart said. Boozel will hand out seed packets on Earth Day April 22 so that students can start their own herb garden.
      Boozel collects cardboard, paper, cans, bottles and grease for recycling, and uses greenware derived from resin and is 100 percent compostable.