Reducing Waste with Reusable Containers on Campus


We have successfully launched Cupanion Rewards at over 20 college and university campuses! However, we are excited to celebrate our first school that is using the app to track reusable containers!

How was the reusable container program implemented?

Reusable Containers on Campus St. Lawrence College & Brown’s Dining Solutiona have introduced a great Cupanion program across all 3 of their campuses.

To be part of the reusable container program students pay a $5 dollar “eco-membership” fee. That fee gets them a reusable, recyclable, BPA free container along with a Cupanion Rewards tag. Students can exchange their used reusable container for a clean, sanitized one at any of St. Lawrence’s food service locations. Since the barcode on the Cupanion Rewards tags are the same a student can use any reusable container that has a tag on it.

St. Lawrence College Cupanion App With Cupanion Rewards a student can earn points each time they reuse a reusable container or cup. Once they get to a 1,000 points the student gets a $10 towards meals at their dining locations. PLUS, each time a student scans they have a chance to win a free coffee as a random reward. We all know the college students love free food, so we think this a great incentive.

Currently, the average price of a disposable clamshells is $0.30/unit, in bulk. If each student uses a container for a 180 day school year this would cost the school $54.00/student/year. This doesn’t even account for the cost of disposal which is usually a per weight or volume fee. Comparatively, the average cost of a reusable container per student with Cupanion Rewards would cost about $8-$10/student. This does not include the cost to collect and wash the containers, which does need to be considered.

How can a school establish a similar program?

There are a few main models that can be used in order to bring a reusable container program to a college or university campuses:

    St. Lawrence Reusable Container

  • Offer rewards and incentives (like Cupanion Rewards) to people that pay into a deposit program. This incentivizes students to get engaged in the program.
  • Provide first year students with reusable containers. The majority of first year students have a meal plan since they are living in dorms. There is also a huge opportunity to educate incoming students on the importance of environmental awareness
  • Eliminate disposable containers from dining locations. This is a big step but a worthwhile from an environmental and cost perspective. This model works best if each student is provided with a reusable container through dining services. Cupanion Rewards can be used to help encourage behavioural change.

Colleges and Universities have the opportunity to educate young people about the positive impact they can have on the environment. Highlighting the importance of reducing disposable waste may inspire students to get more involved in other environmental initiatives that can benefit their school, community, or the world.

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