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Technology & Equipment

Reducing coffee waste with smart equipment

Photograph: Shutterstock

Food waste is a serious problem at college campuses today. According to Recycling Works, a government-run waste program in Massachusetts, the average student who lives on campus throws away 141 pounds of uneaten food per year. Beyond that, it is believed that colleges and universities nationwide throw away 22 million pounds of food each year. Disposing of unused food is not only an environmental issue–food waste is the single largest waste stream entering municipal landfills, contributing to the release of greenhouse gases–but it is also bad for business. It creates additional business expenses and, in an era of environmental awareness, does not reflect well on the image of a particular institution. 

Operators are attuned to the problem. According to Datassential’s College & University Keynote 2016, 51% of C&U operators cite “managing waste” as a top business objective and 73% cite “managing waste” as a top business challenge.

Taking control of total waste

Many operators are already taking action in an effort to reduce food waste. But beverage waste is not insignificant. From cups to straws, coffee grounds and leftover brewed coffee, it’s crucial for operators not to ignore the waste that beverages can contribute to an operation.

Coffee is one area where college and university food operators can make significant inroads. Coffee-related economic activity comprises 1.6% of the total U.S. gross domestic product, and this multibillion industry plays a significant role in the development of waste around the world. Spent coffee grounds, packaging (including disposable, one-time-use coffee pods and capsules) and unbrewed coffee that has to be thrown away are just a few culprits. Furthermore, the large amount of energy it takes to run coffee-making equipment factors into the creation of waste.

Coffee equipment that makes a difference

Fortunately, undergoing the right operational changes can help colleges and universities reduce coffee’s excess waste burden. One effective operational change is choosing the proper equipment. For example, Select Brew, a complete coffee system, can help operators combat the environmental challenges from coffee. Smart features and functions give the operator greater control while also meeting student demands. Here’s how:

  • It reduces landfill waste: Because of the size of a package of coffee–one carton equates to 50 pots of traditional filter-brewed coffee—Select Brew can significantly reduce landfill waste produced from smaller packages. That’s less discarded packaging and fewer filters to dispose of.
  • It decreases unused coffee waste: Unlike traditional brewers that brew a pot of coffee that sits and might turn cold, Select Brew dispenses consistent, fresh coffee cup by cup and on-demand, so there is never leftover, cold coffee that needs to be thrown away.
  • It cuts down on the amount of power used to maintain a coffee station:Power reduction capabilities available in most equipment models through the Eco-Mode reduce machine power when not in use.
  • Other environmental impacts: Beyond curbing waste, Select Brew also allows operators to increase use of sustainably certified coffee, which often supports broader campus sustainability and responsibility initiatives. Some blends are 100% sustainable and UTZ-certified, which enable farmers to learn better farming methods, improve working conditions and take better care of next generations as well as the environment.

Improving coffee services by upgrading to coffee equipment that offers smarter, more efficient technology can help make a dramatic difference in curbing the waste problem at colleges and universities overall.

This post is sponsored by Smucker Foodservice

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