UBC Undergraduate Research

An investigation into incorporating UBC's Eco-to-go program in the new SUB Malhi, Bhavsagar; Chen, Jackie (Shi Shu); Li, Andy


At the University of British Columbia (UBC), a food container program called Eco-to-go prompts the idea of sustainable living by reducing the solid waste and carbon footprint of food outlets on campus. The program is currently only offered at limited locations due to infrastructure and lack of participation. However, the construction of the new student union building (SUB) is expected to be completed in 2014, and it provides the opportunity to introduce Eco-to-go to a broader student population. To enhance the liability of investigation, eleven food outlets in the new SUB are treated as eleven small restaurants, and a standard washing facility is implemented in each foot outlet. A Triple bottom line analysis in the interest of sustainability is conducted to assess the feasibility of integrating the Eco-to-go program (ETGP) in the new SUB. To evaluate the participation rate of the ETGP, a survey was created to collect the opinions of UBC students, which then helped assess the social impact of integrating the program. It was found that the majority of the 143 participants supported the integration plan for the ETGP, and many of the participant‟s believe that a percentage based discount should be applied to those enrolled in the ETGP. The environmental aspect is studied using limited statistical data from the existing ETGP, and the result is extrapolated by estimating 25% participation rate of ETGP in the new SUB. Using this estimate, the ETGP can reduce waste by 29 tons, which translates to a reduction of 970 L in fuel and 2.94 tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Similarly, the economics of integrating the program are investigated by retrieving commercial business data. An economic assessment showed that the initial first year investment into the program is very steep, but reduces to $1500 per vendor per year. In the large scale operations of the SUB, this can be considered a miniscule cost and although the program is not profitable venture, it can financially break even, and so the implementation of the ETGP can be justified. To improve the implementation of the program in the new SUB, a more efficient way must be found to wash the containers, in order to reduce costs. A greater emphasis must also be placed on advertising the program, so as to reach a larger audience, and an on campus heating chamber should be implemented so as to allow the containers to decompose at the end of their life cycle. Ultimately, using a triple bottom line assessment, the conclusion is that the AMS should proceed to integrate the EGTP in the new SUB. 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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