Reducing Waste at the Math and Computer's Coffee and Donut Shop

by: Tanya Hewitt, Jerry McGrath, Ron Sumner, Beth Wheaton

Course: ERS 285, 1996
Professor: Jim Robinson


The coffee and doughnut shops of the student societies serve the food and beverage needs of a large percentage of the student population here on campus. The shops collectively can compete with Food Services in sales and client base. While Food Services is often scrutinized regarding waste, the Coffee and Doughnut shops rarely or never are examined by independent bodies. The amount of waste being generated by the Coffee and Doughnut ( C&D ) shops is therefore uncertain. As we felt it would be too large a project to consider the reduction of all waste for all C&D's, we decided to look at reducing the amount of Styrofoam cups being used to contain hot beverages in one coffee and doughnut shop. We choose the Math C&D, called the Right Angle Cafe, because it is the largest C&D on the University of Waterloo campus. The Right Angle Cafe generates the largest amount of sales, and draws its customers from across campus due to its competitive prices and large selection.

As the cups are purchased from students in all faculties, who then travel all over the campus with their beverages, it remains statistically useless to sift through the trash at the Right Angle to take a simple count of Styrofoam cups in the waste bins. To determine the volume of cups sold, and the ratio of re-usable cup to Styrofoam cup use, we performed a one day visual audit of cup use.

The data from this audit, data collected from a more comprehensive oral survey and a financial study of hot beverage sales allow us to make several recommendations that will allow the profitability of the Right Angle Cafe to remain constant, and also allow the reduced use of the environmentally unfriendly Styrofoam cups. By increasing the availability of reusable cups, by educating patrons of the dangers of Styrofoam and through the simplification and adjustment of the Right Angle Cafe's current pricing structure, positive change can be made towards the reduction of harmful wastes on campus, thus promoting overall sustainability.

This project is available for viewing by the UW community .

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Last updated: June 19, 1996