Soon, the single-use containers currently used for to-go meals at campus dining halls will be replaced by the OZZI system.
The implementation of the OZZI system is an effort from the Student Culinary Council (SCC) and Binghamton University Dining Services (BUDS) to improve sustainability on campus. The system consists of the OZZI machine and reusable plastic to-go containers. With the purchase of a meal plan, each student will receive one free, nonmonetary OZZI token which can be exchanged for a clean container. Each student will be given a clip-on token holder to keep it safe. Once they are done with the container, a student can return the dirty container to the machine to get their token back for future use.
Paul Zakrepine, co-president of the SCC and a senior majoring in biochemistry, said the changes come in response to last semester’s switch from compostable to-go containers to plastic ones.
“OZZI came from the backlash from the plastic containers,” Zakrepine said. “It was in [talks] for a couple years, but that was the push that we needed. From there it just took off.”
Students can access the OZZI machines in all undergraduate living communities. There will be two in Chenango Champlain Collegiate Center (C4), one in Appalachian Collegiate Center and one in College-in-the-Woods Dining Hall. There will also be an OZZI machine in Hinman College Dining Hall after renovations currently ongoing in the building are complete. As of now, the Marketplace will not have a machine installed. The system will be operational on Jan. 19, 2020, the first day of the spring semester.
Brandon Liu, a sophomore majoring in chemistry, said he not only sees the sustainable benefits of the OZZI system, but thinks it will be convenient to use, since students can return a dirty container.
“I’m really concerned about the environment,” Liu said. “I’d definitely be using that. I also feel a big thing is washing your own stuff. Not everybody has a sink to really do that, not everybody has a sponge or whatever, so I think that token system is actually a pretty good idea.”
On the other hand, Vashni Rampersaud, a sophomore majoring in economics, said having to bring back the container is a burden on students.
“I feel like a big thing with these [single-use] containers is that you can throw it away after,” Rampersaud said. “And people aren’t going to like that.”
Austin Rodriguez, a sophomore majoring in nursing, said the switch is a positive move, although there may be a learning curve for students.
“I don’t get why they would switch from these [compostable containers] to plastic ones,” Rodriguez said. “It will take some time to get used to, but I think we’ll get the hang of it after a while.”
While students may have to put in more effort with the OZZI system, the main goal is to move BU in a sustainable direction, according to Jim Ruoff, resident district manager for BUDS.
“One of the beauties of our meal plans is the ability of students to take their food out,” Ruoff said. “I think students like it — they use it — I want to make that more environmentally friendly.”
Zakrepine expressed a similar sentiment behind his push for the OZZI system.
“I want to see a more sustainable shift to this campus,” Zakrepine said. “And I think OZZI is one of the biggest ways to do that.”
The OZZI system has been implemented at other colleges and universities, including McGill University, Tulane University and Rochester Institute of Technology.
BU is in the beginning stages of the transition, but Ruoff said he hopes to see the system spread and have a major impact on BU’s sustainability efforts.
“We use thousands of these carryout containers a week that end up in our waste stream,” Ruoff said. “I would love to cut that to zero. That’s my dream. I think that would be a real positive for our community.”