To-Go Cups Cut Down on Waste


Junior speech lanuage pathology major Alissa Steier and junior physical therapy major Mackenzie Yurko drink from their new to-go cups while doing homework.

Courtney Garloff, Editor-In-Chief

Reusable to-go cups are a new part of Metz Culinary Management’s growing sustainability initiative.

This fall, Metz handed out reusable cups to resident students to use instead of the throwaway cups they have used for years. Students received them during the extended take-out hours of the dining hall as a part of the Metz T.A.S.T.E Initiative, also known as the Taking Action for a Sustainable Tomorrow Everywhere Initiative, which is designed to help reduce food waste.

The change came after more colleges and universities have begun to try to lessen their impact on the environment. is an unrelated national movement that works to reduce the Earth’s carbon footprint by encouraging the carrying and using of reusable cups instead of traditional paper cups. The Initiative’s website states that at the University of Washington, a college of roughly 42,000 students, an estimate of 5,000 paper coffee cups are thrown away every school day, as found by the Housing and Food Services Department.

One feature of the cups is that they were made primarily from recycled materials to reflect the program’s values. The cups feature a coffee mug-like design and the university’s blue and gold colors as well as the logos of the university and Metz Culinary Management.

“We wanted to do this to use less paper products even though all of our products are all biodegradable,” said Metz Culinary Management general manager Bruce Deeble.

This change came three years after another Metz managed university started using the reusable cups in their dining hall.

“We got the idea from Lebanon Valley College who has been using them for a couple years now,” said Deeble.

Deeble credits Bill Allman, Metz district manager, with creating the concept for the cups, which prompted Lebanon Valley to adopt it.

According to the Lebanon Valley College student handbook, students received a free

take out reusable cup for the school year  – a member of the dining team distributed them. Students may bring the cups into the dining hall for take-out beverages with all meal purchases. If students lose the cups or they are stolen, new ones can be purchased for $5.

Once Metz decided this idea would also work for Misericordia, Deeble took the idea to the Director of Student Activities, Darcy Brodmerkel.

Both Brodmerkel and the Student Government Association gave a resounding yes because of the tie with the university’s values – particularly sustainability.

“Sustainability is one of the Sister’s of Mercy’s critical concerns, and this is very much tied into that,” said Brodmerkel.

Metz Culinary Management staff feels that the cups are a positive addition to their sustainability programs.

“I think it [cup use] is really positive,” said Metz general manager at Lebanon Valley College, Kim Smith.

Sophomore Lebanon Valley College student Rebekha Poff thinks the cups are convenient.

“I think the cups are nice for people to use to fill up on drinks and are easy to carry with you,” said Poff.

The new mugs are also saving the university cash: $845 per semester.

“For us, this isn’t about the money; it is about doing our part to help the environment and to be sustainable,” said Deeble.

The cost of the cups was shared between Metz and Student Activities.

“We decided to change over the cups and went to the university and Student Activities decided to purchase half of the cups while we purchased the other half,” said Deeble.

Both Deeble and Brodmerkel say the new initiative is a chance to help protect the environment and also make students aware of what they can do to help.

“Hopefully students will embrace this and not take our earth Earth for granted,” said Brodmerkel. “You guys are going to have to live here longer than us.”

While helping the environment is the driving force behind the cup switch, there are other benefits to discontinuing use of the old cups.

“We lose about 12 cases of the old to-go cups a semester,” said Brodmerkel. “Your [student] tuition pays for these cups that people just throw away.”

Staff handed out the cups to first year students during their one-day orientation dates. Upperclassmen students were able to pick up their cups during the first week of classes in the Metz Dining Hall.

“We are trying to get out in front of freshmen to tell them about sustainability and also to remind the returning students that we are still here and about what we are doing to basically cut down on the amount of waste,” said Smith.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that every year Americans generate around 14 million tons of food waste, which is 106 pounds of food waste per person. More than a half million tons of this is composted for a 4.1% recovery rate. The rest, or 13.4 million tons, is incinerated or put into landfills, occupying 6.3 million cubic yards of municipal solid waste.

“It is quite scary to see the more than 4.5 million tons of food is wasted in the United States every year, and about 25% of that is edible food,” said Deeble.

According to Brodmerkel, Metz’s plan is to see how the new to-go cups system works and is received by students before it is added to the sustainability initiative.

Metz hopes to reduce the amount of food waste by starting the “Sample It” program, in which workers will provide recyclable plastic cups and a mini plastic spoon for students to sample any food they would like.

Currently, the cups are to be used to take drinks out of the dining hall only during extending dining hours when students get take-out.