UBC Undergraduate Research

An investigation into Eco-to-Go in the new Student Union Building Almisbahi, Fahad; McFaul, Joel; Siemens, Trevor


As part of the Lighter Footprint Strategy, the AMS has requested an investigation into incorporating UBC’s Eco-to-Go Program at the New SUB. The program is currently being used at the Totem and Vanier cafeterias with around 4000 participants. Users pay a $5 deposit for a token, which can be exchanged for a clean container. Used, dirty containers can also be returned for a clean container where they will be washed. The New SUB will have eleven food outlets that will participate in this program. This report analyses the environmental, economic, and social impacts that integrating with this program might have. This report considers stakeholder interviews, academic research, and quantitative analysis in its detailed analysis of these areas. An environmental analysis considering life cycle analysis of reusable polyethylene containers, as well as paperboard and some biodegradable plastic containers yields a net positive effect. Mainly as a result of the number of containers a single reusable container can replace, the environmental impact from production is vastly reduced. An economic analysis considering the costs of purchasing the reusable containers versus the disposable containers, washing, and discounts on meals resulted in finding that the program has a negative return. Because the meal discount is equivalent in value to the savings from not purchasing the disposable containers, the program as it currently stands is not able to generate any savings. However, it is recommend that the meal-discount is eventually phased out as this will result in the program saving money. A social analysis considering the effects of implementing the program on student’s convenience, health hazards, operational changes, and green initiative concluded that the program would have positive overall social impact. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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