The University of Virginia is the latest college to remove trays from its dining halls, beginning this fall. The initiative was spearheaded by students who two years ago conducted a plate waste study one day each month for three months at Observatory Hall, the campus’s largest dining hall, where about half of the school’s daily meals are served. They found one-day totals averaging about 880 pounds of waste, which all went into landfills.
The students worked with campus dining services provider Aramark to remove dining hall trays. Aramark recently released the results of two studies that indicated that “going trayless” does provide environmental benefits, including not just waste reduction but savings in energy and water costs, and that students are generally inclined to accept such a change when it is put into effect.