Four weeks into the trayless program, it’s still too early to evaluate the impact of trayless dining on waste and costs, Director of Dining Services Stu Orefice said in an e-mail.
Prior projections by members of Greening Princeton estimated that eliminating trays could reduce food waste by 30 percent. Water and energy used to wash trays would also be conserved — as much as a half gallon of heated water per tray, according to an Aramark Higher Education Food Services report. The trayless program grew out of a collaboration between Dining Services and environmental groups like Greening Princeton and Greening Dining.
Orefice said that the move to trayless dining has not decreased the popularity of the Wu and Wilcox dining halls. “We have served over 50,000 meals at Butler/Wilson and have only received three complaints, from three seniors who said they preferred the old system because they saw various advantages to using trays, including maneuverability in the serving area.”
Many schools that have implemented the policy, including several in the Ivy League, achieved substantial decreases in waste and water use. Another Aramark Food Services report said that 50 to 60 percent of the colleges and universities it serves plan to shed their trays or already have done so.
Despite initial concern over how students would react to the move to trayless dining, there have been few complaints. “I’m all for it,” Wilson College resident Erik Zyman ’12 said. “It may be slightly less convenient, but I think we can all take a hit for the environment.”
Cap & Gown Club member Nikhil Trivedi ’11 also said he favored the change. “Meals at Cap are trayless too, and I think it encourages students to waste less food, while not really being much of an inconvenience,” he said.
Butler College Master Sanjeev Kulkarni described an “overwhelmingly positive” response from students. “Any change requires some adjustment and a learning period, and our numbers at Butler/Wilson have been quite high, and yet things have gone quite smoothly,” Kulkarni said.
Kulkarni credited the easy transition to the Dining Services staff’s hard work and dedication. Dining Services staff members in the Forbes dining hall said that they have had no problems with the new system.