The Future of Takeout in Marquette’s Dining Halls


This is a column part of a monthly series called “No Planet B” written by Sustainability & Energy Management Coordinator Chelsea Malacara and her sustainability interns. This series aims to provide insight on how we can begin to think and make sustainable choices on campus for a better future. 

OZZI Containers are becoming popular at more universities to reduce waste from traditional to-go containers that are made of paper or plastic. You may recall these containers are the green to-go boxes that are used at select locations across Marquette’s campus. They can be returned at the large OZZI return machines that are located by the vending machines in the Alumni Memorial Union (AMU) and in the Schroder dining hall. Marquette has been using these containers since 2014, but their use was slowly phased out when the pandemic hit campus. This year, Sodexo is planning on bringing these containers back to Marquette Place in the AMU and reinforming students that you can use them in Schroder’s dining hall as well.  

OZZI’s mission is to create and apply a system that can be used in college dining halls and other organizations to provide containers that can be used multiple times. By choosing these containers over disposable ones, landfill waste is reduced drastically. The system the company has implemented for these organizations includes a token system to obtain a container, a way to return the containers, and a sanitizing procedure for them before they can be reused. According to their website, the company’s goal is to “ensure disposable containers are a thing of the past,” and their success is represented by the staggering number of disposable containers they have estimated to have diverted from the landfills: 25 million 

Before OZZI containers were originally utilized at Marquette in 2014, it was estimated that 75,000 takeout containers were thrown away each semester. In the first year alone, this program diverted more than 150,000 containers from the landfill! Not only does this system allow for universities to reduce waste, but it also reduces emissions. With less fossil fuels being used to create single-use plastic containers, greenhouse gas emissions are reduced when they are being produced from the extraction and transportation of fossil fuels. Fewer trees are cut down for single-use paper containers too. Though Marquette recycles, containers often do not get recycled properly because of the many guidelines in place for recycling. Paper containers are unable to be recycled once they are soiled with food waste, and plastic cartons must be wiped down of all food waste before being put into the recycling bin. If any of these soiled items end up in the recycling bin, the entire bag may be sent to the landfill. Switching to reusable containers prevents these discrepancies in the recycling system from occurring, in turn giving students less to worry about and sending less waste to the landfill.  

To use these containers, simply ask for a green to-go container at the Schroder dining hall or at most of the Marquette Place stations. Once you go to check out, hand the cashier your OZZI coin in return for the container. Another way you can reduce waste is to opt out of taking the disposable silver wear they offer you. Use your own reusable silver wear from home to reduce how much waste you produce! After you are done eating, empty the contents from the container into the garbage and return the container at either of the two drop-off locations. There are OZZI return machines located in the vending area at the AMU, right outside Marquette Place, as well as one located inside the Schroder dining hall. You will receive a coin from the machine which you can exchange for another container in the future. By making the sustainable choice to utilize this program for your future meals, you can reduce your footprint as well as Marquette’s.  

This story was written by Ally Olsen. She is a sustainability intern for Chelsea Malacara, the Sustainability & Energy Management Coordinator for Marquette University. She is not a staff member for the Wire. She can be reached at [email protected]