New mugs dis­tributed to replace the paper cups. | Col­legian


Paper to-go cups are now a no-go in the Knorr Dining Room.

Instead, Bon Appétit Man­agement Company, the college’s food service, is pro­viding 1,600 reusable ther­moses to stu­dents, faculty, and staff as a replacement to reduce waste, said David Apthorpe, Bon Appétit’s Hillsdale manager. Dis­carding the paper cups aligned with the food service company’s sus­tain­ability goals, he said.

“More than 80,000 cups and sleeves and lids hit the trash each year,” Apthorpe said. “That’s just not man­ageable.”

Bon Appétit decided the solution was to provide each student with a to-go thermos, so patrons can still take coffee, tea, and other drinks after leaving the cafe­teria. Bon Appétit, however, has not decided if it will provide ther­moses in the future.

“We didn’t want to pull the rug out and not give people another option,” he said. “So even though we’re taking away part of a service, we’re also pro­viding a gift.”

Bon Appétit Director of Oper­a­tions Anna Haru­tunian said the to-go tum­blers allow the company to maintain an equi­librium between two of the food service’s main goals: reducing waste and main­taining con­ve­nience.

“This is a win-win sit­u­ation for the college and our envi­ronment,” Haru­tunian said in an email.

Haru­tunian said those who weren’t directly given a thermos can pick one up at the front desk of the Grewcock Student Union, and faculty inter­ested in receiving their free thermos can do so at the front desk in the dining hall.

Haru­tunian said Bon Appétit plans on pro­viding incoming freshmen with a thermos each year, and extra tum­blers will be available to those who lose theirs.

Bon Appétit’s decision received pushback from stu­dents, however. Several said it is an incon­ve­nience, espe­cially upper­classmen who were accus­tomed to Bon Appétit’s pre­vious system.

“It seems as if Bon Appétit spent a sig­nif­icant amount of money pur­chasing to-go con­tainers which stu­dents are going to bring back only on occasion, if at all,” senior Katie Mersereau said. “There is no question that a small 8-ounce bev­erage to go at every single meal is absolutely jus­tified for the price of the meal plan they’re paying for.”

Apthorpe said Bon Appétit expected the com­plaints, saying it happens each time the cafe­teria makes a sig­nif­icant change.

“Every time you’re changing a behavior or expec­tation, there’s going to be pushback,” he said. “As people get used to it, it will be fine.”

Apthorpe said he expects Bon Appétit to con­tinue receiving feedback cards demanding the dis­posable cups back. The cafe­teria stands by its decision, however, because part of Bon Appétit’s mission is to provide a food service sus­tainable for the future.

“If we can elim­inate 80,000 paper cups going to the trash, we see that as a good thing,” Apthorpe said.

Junior Andrea Wallace, pres­ident of the Con­ser­vation Club, said she agreed with Bon Appétit’s decision because being envi­ron­men­tally con­scious is essential in day-to-day life — even at college.

“Studies have shown that if one con­sumes and dis­poses of one paper cup of coffee a day, they will gen­erate 23 pounds of waste each year,” Wallace said in an email. “Let’s say an average of 500 stu­dents consume a to-go bev­erage from the cafe­teria daily — that would result in 11,500 pounds of waste.”

A con­se­quence of Bon Appétit’s switch is the increasing number of ceramic mugs dis­ap­pearing from the cafe­teria. Stu­dents forget their ther­moses and leave with the sit-in mugs available to them, Apthorpe said. He said this is a reality Bon Appétit is willing to face.

Apthorpe said the desire to reduce the amount of food being taken from the cafe­teria also went into the decision.

“It’s def­i­nitely an added benefit,” he said. “But the ther­moses obvi­ously don’t pro­hibit it from hap­pening alto­gether. But when things leave the cafe, it dimin­ishes the value for everyone else who comes in.”

Haru­tunian said Bon Appétit is willing to adjust and adapt to their customer’s needs.

“If a more effi­cient or unique way of ser­vicing our cus­tomers and elim­i­nating waste becomes available we may go that route,” she said in an email. “We are not doing this as a gimmick. We truly appre­ciate our cus­tomers and our envi­ronment. Stu­dents matter, the college matters, and our envi­ronment matters.”