Lotus Thai

Lotus Thai

Lotus Thai

Speaker | Aramark/UCI

Irvine, CA | 949-824-3170 | thai-lotus@aramark.com

Lotus Thai is the Sustainability Coordinator for UCI Hospitality & Dining, a partnership between UCI and Aramark. In this role, she oversees 28 dining locations including catering, two zero waste dining halls, and retail locations. She develops educational programs and innovative projects that focus on zero waste, recycling and composting, and sustainable purchases. She has presented at AASHE, NACAS West, and CHESC.

Presentation Title: Achieving Zero Waste at University Dining Halls and Food Courts

Session: Campus Composting, Part 2: Pushing the Boundaries

Time: Tuesday, January 29, 4:45 PM – 6:15 PM

Presentation Summary: The University of California, Irvine (UCI) has two zero waste dining halls: Pippin Commons and The Anteatery. These dining halls, located in first-year resident communities of 4,900 students, are open to all members of the campus and serve 57,000 meals a week. The UC Office of the President (UCOP) defines zero waste as diverting at least 90% of solid waste from the landfill. In 2013, Pippin Commons received its zero waste certification by diverting over 97% of its waste. In 2017, one year after opening, The Anteatery was designated as zero waste with a 98% diversion rate.

To achieve zero waste, UCI Hospitality & Dining Services (HDS),including its dining partner Aramark, collaboratewith UCI Facilities Management, Waste Management, and the Los Angeles Sanitation District. To accomplish this goal, HD Strainsover 200 employees on proper waste disposal, labels and color-codes all compost, recycle, and landfill bins, and hosts educational programs. All paper and food waste, including bones, are sent to an anaerobic digester. The digester produces biogas that is captured and used for energy. HDS employees also use LeanPath, which has reduced pre-consumer waste by 54.4% in its firstyear. Additional strategies include safe food donation and source reduction by implementing standards for ordering, preparing, serving, and tracking food production. HDS’s approach is aligned with the U.S. EPA’s food recovery hierarchy.

HDS has a Green Captain team, which consists of 35-40 student employees, interns, and fellows. These Green Captains conduct ongoing, peer education programs(e.g. Wiping Out Waste) to further reduce post-consumer waste. Wiping Out Waste is held twice a quarter and requires guests to scrape any uneaten foods into a bin. The bins are then weighed and divided by how many guests attended that meal period. In 2016-2017, 1.62 ounces of food was wasted per guest. In 2017-2018, 1.17 ounces of food was wasted per person.

To meet the UC goal of zero waste by 2020, HDS is now focusing on the four on-campus retail food courts. Currently these locations hold quarterly evens to promote reuse and proper waste disposal using thecompost, recycling, and landfill bins. Digital binswere installed in one of the food courts, which reduced landfill contamination by 11.9% by weight. Additional projects and programs, including a pilot of our liquids/ice bins, are expected to launch in Fall 2018.

This presentation will go over specific programs and initiatives used by HDS to achieve zero waste, upcoming projects, and challenges of maintaining zero waste while serving 116,000 meals a week between retail locations and dining hall scombined.