Reuse & Recycling

Trayless Dining

John Jay Dining Hall, JJ's Place, and Ferris Booth Commons went trayless in Fall 2009. Removing 1,400 trays resulted in an estimated savings of 3,000 gallons of water per day and approximately 50 pounds of food waste per meal. 

The Doe Fund

Columbia Dining recovers and recycles about 4,000 gallons of cooking oil annually through The Doe Fund, whose Ready, Willing and Able program trains men for future employment – and gives them immediate employment in picking up cooking oil from restaurants and other dining locations. They then work with METRO Biofuels to recycle the oil into biodiesel fuel.

Surplus Goods

Columbia Dining and Event Management donate surplus kitchen equipment, including pots, pans, dishware, restaurant equipment, tables, and chairs through Columbia Community Service-affiliated organizations. These goods are distributed in the five boroughs of New York City.

Service Items

The estimated 6.6 million napkins used annually in Columbia Dining are made of 100% post-consumer recycled content. Biodegradable plates, bowls, hot cups, and flatware are used in all dining areas except John Jay. Reusable dishes and utensils are used in John Jay Dining Hall. In 2018, Columbia Dining transitioned to 100% compostable straws and plant-based cold beverage cups.

Reusable Containers

Columbia Dining provides reusable eco-containers for to-go food. Students on a meal plan receive a free token to exchange for an eco-container. The American-made, polypropylene containers are microwave and dishwasher safe, with microbial protection to control stains and odor-causing bacteria. At the end of their useful life, the containers are recyclable. Learn more about the eco-container program.

Bottles, Cans, Cardboard

Dining does not use plastic bottles or aluminum cans in our all-you-care-to-eat locations. Each year, we recycle more than 175,000 cardboard boxes.