MUSG, Sodexo debut sustainable to-go boxes

Teran Powell

Marquette Student Government used reserve funds to distribute reusable containers with the aim to reduce waste on campus. Photo by Matthew Serafin /
Marquette Student Government used reserve funds to distribute reusable containers with the aim to reduce waste on campus. Photo by Matthew Serafin / [email protected]

In an effort to reduce Marquette’s environmental footprint, Marquette Student Government and Sodexo, Inc. implemented  a reusable to-go container system in the Alumni Memorial Union, Mashuda and Schroeder dining halls.

The idea for the reusable containers, called Ozzi, has been in the works for three years, said Kevin Gilligan, general manager of University Dining Services. As Marquette works to be more sustainable, Sodexo wants to be more sustainable as well.

“Marquette Place alone was going through 75,000 containers a semester that were going straight to the landfill,” Gilligan said. Although the regular containers are biodegradable, they are just as harmful as styrofoam when not processed correctly.

According to MUSG president Kyle Whelton,  prior ideas for utilizing reusable containers did not meet standards over the last couple of years. Gilligan presented the opportunity to work with Ozzi to the AMU Advisory Board and the Dining Advisory Board. The Ozzi system fit perfectly into what Sodexo was trying to do with sustainability.

 MUSG allocated almost $45,000 from the reserve fund to purchase two Ozzi machines to supplement the single machine purchased by the university. Sodexo funded the containers.

The reusable containers were provided to every student on a meal plan and living in the residence halls.

To use the containers, students can take them to any Ozzi machine to be cleaned. There are two in the AMU and one in Schroeder dining hall. Students deposit the container into the machine and receive an Ozzi token. The token can be taken to Marquette Place, Mashuda dining hall or Schroeder dining hall. If a student asks for a to-go box they are given the option of paper or plastic, as well as disposable or reusable.

Gilligan said the tokens are used to allow students to not be charged for the reusable containers if they plan to recycle them.

“If a student has the reusable container, the cashier automatically rings in the charge for the container at the time of checkout, but when the student presents the token, the charge for the container comes off,” Gilligan said.  When students finish their meal, they can bring the container back to the machine and the process repeats.

Upperclassmen who are not on a meal plan have a chance to be a part of the Ozzi system. Over the next couple of weeks Gilligan, Whelton and Rick Arcuri, director of business operations and auxiliary services for Student Affairs, will be around campus handing out tokens to anyone interested. Receiving a token admits a student to the program.

Although the reusable containers are the focus of the Ozzi system, paper containers will still be available. MUSG decided, however, that after Sept. 8 there will be a 50- cent charge for the paper containers. This charge helps fund the program to keep it going in the future.

If students not in the residence halls need to buy a container, it costs a one-time fee of five dollars. If a container breaks, it is replaced for free, but if it gets lost or thrown away it will be five dollars to replace.

“So far student reactions have been incredibly positive to the Ozzi initiative,” Arcuri said.

Whelton said the Ozzi initiative will take time, but Marquette is taking steps to become a more efficient campus.

“I think there is going to be a period of transition,” Whelton said. “We’re going to be doing everything we can to make sure that students have the knowledge and the education that they need to use the system.”

There will also be a video coming soon provided by MUSG showing how to use the Ozzi system.