Sustainability in Dining Services

Graphic of W behind the earthDining Services participates in the WMU sustainability initiative to reduce waste, conserve vital resources, and protect the campus environment. WMU students have also shown tremendous support and initiated green projects to help make campus dining environmentally friendly according to the Western Herald student newspaper.

Locally sourced logo graphicLocally sourced products 

WMU Dining Service is committed to serving products grown or processed in the Great Lakes states (Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio and Wisconsin). Items that are grown or processed in this region are labeled with our locally sourced logo in the dining centers. Find out more about locally sourced products in Dining Services.

LEED Gold Certification

Western Michigan University's Valley Dining Center was awarded LEED Gold certification demonstrating continued support for the strategic goal of sustainable stewardship. Valley Dining Center has the ability to seat 1,000 guests while providing a unique variety of food options at nine micro-restaurants. The facility is designed to enhance social interaction and appeal to the interest of all students, staff and guests. Valley Dining Center offers a wide variety of healthy options as the staff prepares roughly 4,000 meals per day in a thoughtful, nutritious manner. Also included is a state-of-the-art pantry accommodating food allergies and intolerances, the first of its kind on campus. The facility incorporates a variety of sustainable features and "green" building functions. Find out more about sustainability at Valley Dining Center.

Trayless dining centers

WMU Dining Services is trayless in all of our dining centers. The trayless initiative began in 2008. Based on food waste audits conducted in 2008, food waste was reduced by up to 30% when trays were removed. In addition to reducing food waste, there are also environmental savings that result from the decreased dish washing volume when trays are no longer used. Fewer cleaning chemicals are used, less energy is consumed to run dish machines, and there is less water waste. WMU students are applauded for their leadership in the national move to trayless dining and their immediate acceptance of this service style.

In conjunction with the Western Student Association, Dining Services helps to raise awareness about the facts regarding food waste to students and other patrons of the dining centers. These infographics about the quantity of food we waste as a society are posted in the dining halls and throughout campus on digital displays. Students and other diners are encouraged to reduce their own post-consumer food waste in the dining halls by choosing portions responsibly in self-serve areas.

EcoJug sitting on a cement surface outside.
Reusable drink cups 

WMU Dining Services introduced the Wesustain EcoMug and EcoJug as an eco-friendly alternative to disposable packaging. The insulated travel cup can be used at any Dining Services Campus Café for fountain beverages, coffee, tea and cappuccino drinks. In addition to getting a discount on the price of drink refills, the reusable Wesustain EcoMug and EcoJug help to reduce unnecessary landfill waste normally generated by styrofoam and paper cups.

By using this container in Dining Service locations (both dining halls and for a 15% discount on a 16 oz. beverage purchase in the WMU Dining Service Campus Cafes) you agree to the following: 

The EcoMug or EcoJug will be washed with soap and rinsed with water before each use of this container to obtain a beverage in WMU Dining Services.

The top rim of the EcoMug or EcoJug is not to come in direct contact with the beverage-dispensing nozzle to ensure you do not contaminate the beverage-dispensing nozzle with germs from your mouth. 

Be kind to the earth! The Wesustain EcoMug and EcoJug are refillable, reusable and recyclable.

Recycled napkin dispensing

Dining Services replaced table napkins with Tork Xpress napkin dispensing systems. To minimize waste and reduce the environmental impact, the updated dispensers:

  • Use 100% recycled post-consumer recycled fiber napkins.
  • Increases hygiene and cuts waste by delivering one napkin at a time.
  • Utilizes a chlorine-free bleaching process that eliminates the release of damaging chlorine compounds into the environment.

Food Diversion program

WMU Dining Services has collaborated with local farmers from Bear Foot Farm Natural Meats and Fresh Produce in Paw Paw, MI to create a food diversion initiative. Dining Services has purchased and labeled bins used for gathering and transporting food waste to the farm, located about 25 miles from campus. The farmers pick up the food waste three times per week and feed the vegetable and fruit scraps to their pigs. Listed below are the total food scraps amount diverted since the initiation of the program:

  • September 2011 through December 2011: 14,740 lb.
  • January 2012 through December 2012: 65,627 lb.
  • January 2013 through June 2013: 38,545 lb.
  • July 2013 through December 2013: 39,960 lb.
  • January 2014 through June 2014: 37,370 lb.
  • July 2014 through December 2014: 36,095 lb.
  • January 2015 through June 2015: 31,455 lb.
  • July 2015 through December 2015: 38,358 lb.
  • January 2016 through June 2016: 33,818 lb.
  • July 2016 through December 2016: 40,155 lb.
  • January 2017 though June 2017: 30,680 lb.

Fryer Oil to Mower Initiative

100 gallons of used filtered oil from the Hoekje/Bigelow Dining Service fryers was converted for use by Landscape Services lawn mowers during the 2013-14 school year.