Dining services to continue campus-wide cup reduction, possibly measure liquid waste

A cup in South Dining Hall (Judah Shingleton/The Daily Campus)

The University of Connecticut’s Dining Services plans to proceed with the implementation of 12-ounce cups in most of the dining halls around campus, according to director of dining services C. Dennis Pierce.

A post on UConn SubReddit from Monday alleged that both the 16 oz and 12 oz glasses held the same amount of water, given that the 12 oz was shorter and wider than the 16 oz and vice versa. A student employee poured the water from the 12 oz cup into the 16 oz cup and demonstrated that each cup held a similar amount despite the 16 oz being larger.

Pierce said the shape of the new 12 oz glasses juts out more to compensate for the other four ounces the 16 oz glass held previously, but that there is a difference. He added that the move is focusing on preserving other liquids besides water, and that the change was implemented three years ago.

“It really is a 4 oz difference. It really came out of ‘what can we do differently?” Pierce said. “We’re saving beverage in general, whether it’d be milk or otherwise.”

Pierce said when discussing liquid waste, it’s important to consider whether or not other liquids like coffee and soda count, especially since there has been a decrease in certain liquids among UConn students in the past few years.

“We’re finding a significant decline in the consumption of soda,” Pierces said. “In fact, when we open Whitney, the beverage dispenser will not have traditional soda, it’ll have all of the fruited, carbonated low sugar processes.”

The field of trying to measure and control liquid waste is relatively new and uncharted, Pierce said.

“When we’ve done our food waste tests in the past working with Eco House and Eco Huskies, we’ve measured solid waste,” Pierce said. “But we haven’t measured liquid waste.”

Pierce said the logic behind reducing the cup size follows a similar protocol to how dining services first chose to combat food waste a few years ago.

“A UConn student in an all-you-care-to-eat dining facility wastes approximately, on average, 2.1 ounces on a meal,” Pierce said. “So we just said, ‘why don’t we just go to a smaller container?’”

Pierce said dining services fully intends on converting each dining unit to the 12 oz cups on a time-sensitive basis.

“I think we’re down three units now. As the inventory drops of 16 oz cups, we’ll continue to flip units at the end of the semester,” Pierce said. “We haven’t ordered any [new cups] in 18 months.”

Gelfenbien and Putnam are two units that currently are using the new 12 oz cups, but Pierce said those units are just the foundation for elsewhere.

Pierce said, admittingly, dining services has not yet attempted to measure liquid waste, but that the method by which it would be done would likely be similar to how the university measures solid waste.

“You put the container of food on the scale and then you get 20 pounds or 10 pounds, and then mark that down, wash it out, and then put another container on top,” Pierce said. “We have a tendency to do this [process] in the spring.”

Measuring liquid waste is difficult because it is also hard to decipher which products require more attention and care, Pierce said.

“I guess the question is - maybe we should do liquid but then again what do you do?” Pierce said. “For instance, you’ve got flavored water. Is that really waste? Not really, because your only investment is the fruits you’re using to flavor the water. It comes down to other things like milk- that’s the hard part.”

Pierce said he is not aware of any purchases that were made before break to bring any new cups into the dining halls.

“I don’t think anyone made a glass transition over Thanksgiving,” Pierce said. “Usually we just do it at the end of the semester or at the start of a new one because it’s less havoc.”


Taylor Harton is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at taylor.harton@uconn.edu.