New biodegradable and compostable bowls, cups and lids were introduced in Collis Café this term as a result of a three-year search for compostable containers. “Here alone at Collis last year, we went through 250,000 clamshells, which all ended up in landfill and we just didn’t feel comfortable with that,” Michael Ricker, manager of Collis Cafe, said.SARAH IRVING / THE DARTMOUTH STAF
Ricker discovered the new containers, which are “the perfect size for stir-fry,” at a food show, he said. The new bowls are made from sugarcane and wheatstraw fiber, and the hot cups are lined with polyactic acid derived from plants grown in the United States rather than with polyethylene, a synthetic material. These new containers are manufactured by World Centric, a company committed “to create social and environmental sustainability,” aiming to reduce their carbon footprint to zero and donating 32 percent of their pre-tax profits to sustainability causes, according to World Centric’s website. Aside from bowls and cups for drinks, cups for homemade puddings are also now compostable. World Centric is currently developing larger containers that Collis could use for pasta.
However, the new containers “don’t work for everybody”, Ricker said. The loosely fit bowl lids made it hard for individuals who shake their salads, which is why Collis did not completely eliminate the clamshells.
“I think it is a really good transition, I am really happy that they are not using plastic clamshells,” Samantha Parker ’15, an intern for the Dartmouth Sustainability Office, said. “Ideally, I would want to see reusable dishes at Collis.”
The “optimal way is to have a better kitchen that can rewash dishes,” Ricker said. However, a dishwater requires “a lot of real estate” and will not feasible even with the expansion plans for Collis, Ricker said.
Administrators at the Collis Cafe will continue to work with the Sustainability Office to promote sustainable alternatives at the Cafe. Ricker said he hopes to promote the use of mugs and is working to find compostable utensils and to purchase more and better sustainable products.
Tags: collis, food, sustainability, Winnie Yoe