The Mendoza College of Business has made a significant dent in their waste production by installing a café soda fountain in their staff and faculty lounge instead of providing individual cans of soda. Among the snacks and beverages provided in the lounge, soda is one of the more popular items, and over 1,000 cans were being consumed each month.
“It seemed to me that we could provide pop in a more economical, efficient, and earth-friendly way,” said Karen Hilderbrandt, an administrative assistant in the Dean’s Office. “The response has been very positive – in just the first five months of operation the soda fountain has already reduced the department’s aluminum can consumption by 7,875 cans." To further minimize waste, paper drinking cups are not provided in the lounge. Instead, staff and faculty are encouraged to use their own reusable drinking cups.
Aluminum production is an exceptionally resource and energy intensive process, and therefore a good focus for waste reduction. It takes nearly 9,000 pounds of bauxite (aluminum ore) and 1,020 pounds of petroleum to manufacture one ton of aluminum, and the process creates large quantities of toxic waste. Nationally, less than 50% of aluminum cans are recycled, wasting enough energy to generate electricity for 2.7 million U.S. homes each year.