Sustainable Practices

Dining Services strives to be a leader on campus for sustainable practices. Dining Services continually adds new processes, products, or services to support the mission of the University, and most importantly the interests of our employees and student population. Our goal is to be a major contributor in the education of sustainable practices in Dining Services, UNC, and in the surrounding community. We are passionate about what we can do to lead a more thoughtful life to preserve our environment.

Last year Dining Services rolled out a multi-phase approach to engage in "green" activities for outdoor events, educate the student population on what Dining Services currently does, the future of Dining, and how/what items are compostable or recyclable in Dining Services.

Throughout the multi-phase approach, our many off- and on-campus partners make it possible for us to continue to be innovative in our products, processes and services.

Our partners that help us reach our sustainability goals are listed below:

  • A1 Organics, Eaton, CO, “Colorado’s Leader in Organic Recycling”
    Tom Lincoln, 303-968-7731
    • Provide composting bins and educational materials at outdoor events
    • Provides compost bins for pre-consumer waste at Holmes Hall and at the University Center, pre- and post-consumer waste.
  • Student LEAF (Leadership for Environmental Action Fund)
    Brian Gilmore, President,
    • LEAF is a student-managed green fund with an annual budget of over $200,000 to fund environmental projects and education initiatives that promote a more sustainable culture at the University of Northern Colorado.
    • Funded outdoor recycling containers for UNC Campus, receptacles will be at event.
    • Management of receptacle sites at the event, marketing and education of sustainable efforts and activities on campus
    • We are proud advocates for a brighter, more eco-friendly campus. Please help us accomplish this for a better UNC, and submit your proposals today!
  • YES (Youth of the Environment and Sustainability)
    Rosemary Neel,
    • We are a group of students actively making small daily changes in our lives in order to make less of an impact on the environment and a bigger impact on the world. Gaining support through the question, "what can we do?"
  • UNC Dining Services
    UNC Sustainability Council, Student & Community Engagement Chair
    Jenny Larson, 970-351-1983
    • Coordination of sustainable efforts on campus for the event.
    • Supplemental Dining Services student employee staffing for composting/recycling education at event.
    • Collaboration with campus departments and outside entities.
    • Supply all food and beverage for 2500 people for fall opening BBQ and Community Fest (Homecoming)
  • UNC Facilities
    Manager of Custodial Services, Steven Abbath, 970-351-2446
    • Coordination of receptacles for recycling efforts.
    • Marketing & Education of Sustainable Activities at UNC

What is Dining Doing Now?

  • Holmes Hall:
    • Composts pre- and post-consumer waste.
    • Will begin back of the house recycling program in the month of April
  • Coffee Corners at Kepner, Michener Library, and Turner Residence Hall:
    • Began recycling milk jugs, glass jars, tin cans and plastics 1-7 in September 2013
  • Starbucks:
    • Began recycling milk jugs, glass jars, tin cans and plastics 1-7 in September 2013
  • Einstein Bros. Bagels
    • Began recycling milk jugs, glass jars, tin cans and plastics 1-7 in September 2013
  • University Center kitchen*
    • Began composting pre- and post-consumer waste in July 2013
    • Began recycling milk jugs, glass jars, tin cans and plastics 1-7 in September 2013
    • Note*: UC kitchen includes composting and recycling for UNC Catering events, UNC Concessions, and all production for the UC Food Court, Bears Bistro, Starbucks, Einstein Bros. Bagels, Coffee Corners, and Munchy Mart.
  • Subway
    • The student employees took the initiative to add composting recently
  • All Self-Branded Operations**
    • Has switched to biodegradable, compostable, and recyclable paper- and plastic-ware products as much as possible
    • UC Food Court and Bears Bistro will have all paper- and plastic-ware products completely compostable or recyclable this month!
      • UC Food Court and Bears Bistro is the beta site for testing our new compostable cutlery! We want your feedback!

composting totals

food waste tracker 2013



  • Compare July 2012-June 2013: 136,989.5 pounds (above)
  • Compare July 2013-February 2014: 129,642 pounds* (below)

Note*: Four months to go in fiscal year

food waste tracker 2014 uc

food waste tracker 2014 holmes

Student LEAF is a major contributor to the success of the sustainable activities that Dining Services is participating in. In fall of 2013, Dining Services requested funding for three can crushers to crush our #10 aluminum cans. The can crushers reduces the space the uncrushed #10 cans would occupy in our recycling bins, therefore creating more space for our other recyclables such as glass jars, and plastics 1-7. Student LEAF came to our rescue and is our ‘super hero’ for expanding our current sustainable activities on campus! student leaf

The can crushers are absolutely crucial to our operations. Without these can crushers, our operations would not be able to recycle based on our high volume of production. Dining Services serves over a million customers annually in our Dining Rooms alone. That is a lot of #10 cans to crush and recycle! Thanks to Student LEAF, a smooth process for recycling will become a part of our everyday activities in all of our operations.

Student LEAF has also funded standing sign posts that will display the top five compostable and recyclable paper- or plastic-ware items from our branded concepts and self-branded concepts at the University Center to include Subway, Einstein Bros. Bagels, Bears Bistro, UC Food Court, Starbucks, and Taco Bell. This is just the first step of many to again, play an active role in the education of our practices to our consumers.

How are our efforts helping at UNC?

We are planting the seeds in our student population of the importance of engaging in sustainable practices every day. Dining Services strives to ‘be the example’ for sustainable activities on campus. Employing over 400 students, and approximately 100 classified staff members in our department, there is 500 people, on campus, who have been educated on composting and recycling in Dining Services. It only takes one person to start a movement, and in this case, a department of highly dedicated personnel, whom are passionate about the environment.

Why is our multi-phase goal a priority?

Because sustainability is so important to us, our students, the University, and our future. See how Dining Services is participating in Earth Week which is being organized from members of Student LEAF.

~article submitted by Jenny Larson, Associate Director of Dining Services, April 2014