On sustainability teams, for Mark Petrino

Mark Petrino dishes on the creation of a dining Green Guard.

By 
Lindsey Ramsey, Contributing Editor

 When trash wasn’t being sorted properly at 30,000-student Colorado State University, in Fort Collins, dining services decided to get tough by forming a sustainability team called the Green Guard. Mark Petrino, senior associate director of residential dining, spoke to FSD about how the Green Guard is fighting back against waste and other sustainability issues.

Q. How did the idea for the Green Guard get started?

We wanted to do something in each of the dining centers that portrayed our sustainability practices. We noticed last year that we were doing a lot of composting and a lot of recycling but some of the recycling materials were getting mixed in with the trash and some of the composting wasn’t as clean as we would like. We have a composting center on campus where we take the material, and [the center’s employees] were pulling out rubber gloves and certain things that shouldn’t be in the compost. So we decided to put together a team that showed a lot of interest in sustainability. We went to each of the dining centers and talked to the people who we felt would be most interested. This past summer we put together this team made up of one person from each dining center. We put together a mission statement and started laying out some basic philosophies for what we would like to see from the team. We more or less wanted to make the team ambassadors for our sustainability program.

Q. What are the goals for the Green Guard?

We wanted the Green Guard to go back and educate each of the staff members at their respective facilities about what is recyclable, what is compostable and what is just trash. We went ahead and purchased trash cans—brown for compostable, grey for trash and blue for recyclables. We charged the Guard with making signs and educating their staff members. Along with that we got pins for their uniforms so everyone knows they are part of the Green Guard. We wanted them to carry that into the front of the house so the students would recognize them.

Right now the Green Guard is in an education process with the staff. They are almost like bulldogs in the back of the house. They are making sure that anything that needs to be thrown away is thrown away in the proper place. They are also working with our sustainability coordinator to see what we can do to better to enhance the campuswide initiatives.

Q. What were the biggest challenges getting the program up and running?

Education is the biggest thing. When people develop certain habits it’s hard to get them to change. If the staff members that have been here for a number of years are doing something that they aren’t supposed to be doing then the students see that think it’s OK. We thought the best way we could educate everyone was with the Green Guard because they are in the kitchen every day. It’s been very well received.

Our biggest issue is the new student workers coming in. The Green Guard has been educating the back-of-house staff so [the staff] can start educating the students in the back of the house, which allows the Green Guard members to go in the front of the house to talk to other students.

Q. What are some of the Guard’s plans?

This spring we are also going to be putting in our own herb garden where we will be able to use the dirt produced from our composting. Yesterday’s hamburger is tomorrow’s basil. We also plan to visit and tour Recycle USA, which is where all of Colorado’s recycling ends up. We hope to take what we learn from that visit and bring it back here to possibly figure out a way to not only educate the students on sustainability but also to educate the community on sustainability practices. With certain community events and fairs we want to volunteer to stand guard near the bins and educate the community on sorting trash properly. We’re just trying to reach out further into the community.

Q. What advice would you give to other operators who might want to do something similar?

I think you need to find people that have a passion for sustainability. If you just charge somebody with [being a part of the Guard] then I don’t think it will be as successful. The people who are passionate about sustainability are a minority, but they are a vocal minority.

When trash wasn’t being sorted properly at 30,000-student Colorado State University, in Fort Collins, dining services decided to get tough by forming a sustainability team called the Green Guard. Mark Petrino, senior associate director of residential dining, spoke to FSD about how the Green Guard is fighting back against waste and other sustainability issues.

More From FoodService Director

Menu Development
sam kass peter romeo

We’ve heard it time and again—millennials are extremely conscious about what they eat. They want to know what is in their food, where it is from, how it was made and more. And, as we’re learning, Gen Zers are even more aware and information-demanding about the food they eat than their older counterparts.

Hitting those higher-quality food standards is no easy feat. But it’s becoming a must, said chef Sam Kass—known for being the White House chef for the Obamas, a senior White House policy advisor on nutrition policy while he cooked, and currently the senior food analyst for NBC News...

Sponsored Content
chicken veggies recipes

From Tyson Food Service.

With operators becoming increasingly strapped for time and labor, it’s a strain to prepare every aspect of a menu item back-of-house or keep the menu populated with a variety of options. While it doesn’t mean they have to cut corners when developing new items, operators can use more versatile items that are simple enough to apply across the menu to save on labor and cost as well as be more efficient.

With versatile proteins, operators can increase menu opportunities without kitchen complexity, and drive new customer traffic or increase the number...

Industry News & Opinion

An audit into Kennesaw State University’s dining services revealed the university accrued roughly $2 million from off-campus students paying for meal plans as part of their semester fees, according to a report by Fox 5 Atlanta .

Meal plans at the Kennesaw, Ga., university are automatically assessed to students whether they live on campus or not. The university does not refund unused meals, draining the pockets of commuter students each semester.

“I think it’s ridiculous that we pay all this tuition and then we’re here paying another big fee,” commuter student Emmanuel...

Industry News & Opinion

As part of a 10-year contract to run Eastern Michigan University’s foodservice, Chartwells will invest $5 million in the Ypsilanti, Mich., university, as well as provide it with $18 million in capital improvements, according to a report by the Detroit Free Press .

The university’s board of regents approved the contract on Tuesday, citing the new revenue as an opportunity to expand and improve campus foodservice. EMU’s website indicates the partnership will allow for more student input as well as the introduction of food trucks and improved technology.

“The primary reason...

FSD Resources