A Look into Waste Management Training for Dining Services Staff

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Lianna Brown ’22, Staff Writer

Dickinson Dining Services is known for its initiatives to reduce waste and maintain sustainability; however, while student supervisors and non-student workers are trained in recycling, the red shirt student workers are not.

When asked about this, Lauren Fordyce ’21, Dickinson’s waste minimization intern, said, “It is hard for them [Dining Services] because they have so many students to keep reciprocating the same information to and students forget and don’t listen, and [Dining Services] do not have the time to constantly enforce the rules on to student workers.” 

Training for new employees is extensive, said Errol Huffman, director of Dining Services, and “recycling, composting and landfill are discussed at length.” Reflecting on his work in retail locations such as the Quarry, Giuseppe Collia ’20, a waste minimization apprentice, said, “while red shirts are not trained in recycling, knowing where to throw away the bags that bread come in becomes second nature.” 

In an effort to make recycling easier, Dining Services has set up waste bins in the truck loading dock behind the HUB so that recycling is at the forefront of the staff’s minds. “On the loading dock, there are four dumpsters and three of them are for recycling,” said Collia. “There is one for cardboard, two for commingled recycling and the furthest one away is landfill so people are not just throwing recyclables into the landfill for convenience.”

“We do not produce that much waste that needs to go to the landfill anyways,” said Collia. 

This year, new informational signs that point to compost, recycling and landfill bins have been installed at some dining locations on campus, like Union Station, The Quarry and the Biblio Café.

“Last year they got new salad to-go boxes, and nobody knew what to do with them,” said Fordyce. This new system helps students “look at what you’re getting and know where it goes” said Fordyce.

In the past, the informational signs were placed just on the garbage and recycling bins themselves, but now they are placed to identify packaging items to avoid confusion. “The idea is, where you get your soup container, it says ‘recyclable,’ so when you see the recycle icon, you know it’s recyclable and then when you go to the recycling bin, it has the same icon,” Collia explained. 

New initiatives coming in the future will also help to reduce waste. Currently, the gloves that are used by the workers in Dining Services are not recyclable; however, “Dining Services is moving to using polyethylene gloves… which will be recyclable” said Collia. Additionally, Dining Services is also planning to switch to more sustainable lids. “Similar to Starbucks with the sippy cup lids, when they become available to us, we will switch to those lids,” said Collia.