Dining Services

Waste Reduction

Reusable Cup Discount Program

reuse cupThe environment and your pocketbook win! Bring your own reusable cup to any of our locations and save 15 cents off every time you purchase a hot beverage. We currently divert approximately 5,000 cups from the waste stream each year and are making it our goal to double that amount.

Help reduce paper waste by using one of our Ithaca Dining Services lunch bags that are given out free of charge at sustainability events and grab-and-go locations several times a year. Our Reusable Bag Program will distribute 500 free reusable lunch bags during the 2015-16 school year.

Tray Free Dining

All dining halls are tray free, reducing post-consumer waste. Why? Diners are less apt to waste more using a plate vs. a tray. Since switching to tray free dining, campus diners are now generating 30% less organic waste per meal. IC Square, serves upwards of 2,000 diners per day. By providing metal eating utensils, rather than disposable plastic ware in this high-traffic area we drastically reduce the number of plastic utensils that go into the waste stream. With the average diner using two utensils per meal, we are now diverting approximately 20,000 articles of plastic cutlery each school week.

Sustainable events highlight efforts to reduce waste

wasteWe strive for waste reduction in all areas in part by hosting multiple events in dining halls throughout the semester to raise awareness and help instill sustainable habits. Our WasteLESS Week is held every semester, providing students with important information about waste reduction and ends with our big Weigh the Waste event. Last semester our team weighed food waste in Terrace Dining Hall for two hours during peak hours of dinner time and totaled 151 pounds of food scraps, which amounted to only three ounces per student. This is nearly half the national average of one third of a pound of food wasted per person each meal!


LeanPath is an innovative tool that our dining services team uses to monitor and help reduce food waste. All organic waste generated in the kitchen is carefully weighed using our LeanPath scales. These scales are connected to a live waste monitoring network that allows us to see trends and patterns in our waste production, as well as photograph and label the types of food being thrown out and the reason for its disposal. This kind of cutting edge technology helps us to set goals and devise better kitchen practices to insure that we minimize our waste production. Our chefs meet with dining staff weekly to go over LeanPath results and find ways to constantly improve our waste diversion techniques. Since the system’s implementation in 2011, we have diverted over 180 tons of pre-consumer waste, which is the equivalent of 16,000 gallons of gas conserved and over 140 tons of CO₂ avoided. This is approximately an 85% decrease from our baseline recorded before we began using the system.

Composting and Recycling

recycleAll of our dining halls and retail food locations are equipped with compost receptacles to minimize the amount of organic waste in our waste stream. All compost is then sent to Cayuga Compost where it is processed and turned into the perfect nutrient rich additive for your garden.

Recycling stations are located throughout all our retail dining areas, as well as in kitchens. Our campus now also has the luxury of hassle-free Single Stream Recycling. For more tips on how and what to recycle go to www.ithaca.edu/remp/recycle.

Food Salvage Program

In Fall 2016, IC Dining doubled its food recovery efforts by bringing Terrace Dining Hall online as a 2nd food recovery location. If we continue to average 216 lbs in food recovery efforts this spring, we should be able to divert almost 7,000 lbs to benefit local pantries. An increase of 1,000 lbs over last year. Packaged meals are sent to Ithaca Rescue Mission, a local organization who has been assisting people in need since 2013.

APEX Dishwashing System- Saving Water and Energy

As part of its commitment to increase the sustainability of its operations, Dining Services uses Ecolab’s Apex™ dishwashing system. Apex combines technology and products designed to save water and energy, minimize the impact of products on the environment, and has a built-in method of measuring results. Apex uses a unique combination of detergents, rinse additives, equipment and consultative services to address the operational challenges in food-service operations. The Apex management approach uses a tablet PC and wireless technology to communicate with the system's controller to download, process and analyze data to establish each food-service operation's "rack-to-guest ratio." By monitoring and improving this ratio, the system helps reduce the amount of water and energy used at each facility, and improve total operational efficiency. 

All locations will benefit from using less water, energy and labor, thus minimizing their operations' overall environmental impact. In addition, the Apex system further supports Dining Services' sustainability initiatives with non-caustic chemistry and 95% less packaging material than current methods. Apex products come in a compact solid form that significantly reduces transportation shipments compared to bulkier liquid detergents.

Xpress Nap Holders- Reducing Waste

XPressnap dispensers are another solution to reducing energy and waste. They use 30% less paper than traditional napkin dispensing mechanisms. The great thing about these dispensers is that they help the environment while helping to keep costs down. The napkins are made of 100% recycled paper and the dispenser will encourage customers to take (and waste) less napkins. Energy is saved because less power is used to recycle paper products than to create them from virgin material. According to Xpressnap, enough is saved through using recycled napkins to power 600 American homes for an entire year! More than half a million gallons of oil were saved, equaling 38 tanker trucks worth and 41 tons of pollutants that were kept out of the environment. Using recycled napkins diverted 4,131 cubic yards of paper from landfills. This is enough to cover a football field with a stack of paper two and a half feet deep.

Follow our Sustainability Blog

Make sure to check out our weekly updated Sustainability Blog to stay up to date with events on campus and in the community, as well as tips for how to live a sustainable life. Feedback is always welcome and if there are any sustainability topics you would like to hear about just let us know by leaving a comment.

Sustainability Management and Reporting Tool (SMART)

Our SMART Tool (Sustainability Management and Reporting Tool), is another one of our cutting edge resources that helps make Ithaca Dining Services more sustainable. The tool allows us to monitor our resource use across all sectors in order to help us identify areas that can be improved. The SMART Tool also shows our performance compared to other schools' dining services programs run by Sodexo, which makes finding the most efficient and environmentally responsible practices a friendly competition. The tool tracks our progress in four categories: carbon, water, waste and healthy and sustainable food and environments. Once we have found the sectors that need improvement, the SMART Tool generates a customized "next step" list to help us achieve our goals. Sodexo sustainability consultants also conduct site assessments with unit managers to provide additional advice on how to implement better practices, find what additional resources may be necessary, and ways to develop improvement plans. Utilizing the SMART Tool helps us to reduce our waste and carbon footprint. Next year (2016-2017), plans are to reduce waste in each category by an additional 10%.

Energy Initiative

At Ithaca Dining Service, it is one of our top priorities to operate in a way that has minimal effect on the environment. To do this, we make it our goal to reduce our carbon footprint and energy spending. We constantly monitor our energy consumption, take part in energy audits, purchase the most energy efficient equipment possible, and work to educate dining staff on the best practices that save the most energy possible. The environmental impact of our program, over the last 5 years, asserts a 26% reduction, or 638 Tonnes CO2 annually.
Ithaca College | Dining Services | 1101 Terrace Dining Hall | Ithaca NY 14850 | tel. (607) 274-1187 | Contact Us