Grow, eat and dispose greener

Emerson's dining hall went trayless in spring 2011.

Serving more than 2,000 meals per day, Emerson Dining Services has made important strides in reducing food, water and energy waste through structural innovation and sustainability education. 

Trayless Dining Halls

Like numerous other U.S. college campuses, Emerson has implemented trayless dining halls, which helps conserve energy, water, and food. In fact, students waste about 30 percent less food when they go trayless, according to a study by Sodexo, the College’s food service provider. In addition, water and electricity are saved, since washing trays requires one-third to a one-half gallon of water per tray, as well as electricity. A limited number of trays are always available for those who require them due to disability or other circumstance.

Reusable containers offer convenience and another way for the College to reduce its environmental footprint. Reusable containers are available to students at the Dining Hall’s entrance. Students can drop off used containers (to be cleaned) and pick up new ones, or return the containers and get rainchecks for new containers the next time they want a meal to go.  Emerson’s Café (80 Boylston Street) uses compostable serviceware and offers a beverage discount when using a reusable mug.

Organic and Fair Trade Products

Dining Services offers organic and fair trade products, as well as cage-free eggs. The dining hall features a vegan stir-fry station and all facilities have daily plant-based offerings.  


Emerson partners with Save that Stuff to remove all food, compostable dishware, and paper napkins from the dining facilities’ waste streams. Dining facility staff compost food scraps in the kitchen and dining facility guests can compost any uneaten food, compostable dishware, and paper napkins in containers across from the dish return area. The collected organic material is then brought to Brick Ends Farm in Hamilton, MA to be processed into high-quality, nutrient-rich compost. The compost is re-sold to support youth arts programming and medical research. Students are currently working to bring composting to the residence halls and departmental offices.