UH-Manoa cafeteria introduces biodegradable products

Tamara Armstrong
Tamara Armstrong
Dayton Valdez
Dayton Valdez

By Roger Mari - bio | email

MANOA (KHNL) - It's a partnership geared towards making the University of Hawaii a more sustainable campus, starting with one cafeteria.

The new UH Manoa cafeteria at Gateway Hall will switch from plastics and styrofoams, to bio-degradeable products. It's all part of a pilot program launched by students from the Sustainable Saunders initiative.

The cafeteria began the school year trayless, in an effort to save hundreds of gallons of water needed to wash them.

Tuesday students are introduced to something else, new, compostable napkins, take-out containers and utensils made of sugar cane and cornstarch.

"So far I'm just not happy with the system that we have, it's nobody's fault we just haven't taken the steps to upgrade and I know it's possible," said UH student Tamara Armstrong. "It's exciting to know other campus have done it across the nation."

Students living at Gateway Hall are pleased with this new initiative.

"For most of the students, it's their home now and they want to keep it up to date and keep it clean," said UH student Dayton Valdez.

The plan is a good start but it's still far from perfect.

For now the biodegradable products are thrown away along with regular rubbish.

"We know that burns better, less emmissions goes out compared to let's say a plastic, or anything like that," said Mark Nakamoto, a food service provider.

"If we are creating waste that is biodegradable we can set up a system to recuperate that organic waste and biodegradable waste and put it into a composting system, so it will eventually become mulch on campus," said Armstrong.

It's a trend these students hope will take hold on other campuses in Hawaii for the better of the environment and the economy.

The first step was getting rid of trays, now the introduction of bio-degradable products.

Next up for the Sustainable Saunders is to build an on-campus composting facility.