Common(s) Sustainability

By: Alina Buzgar, News Editor

Chartwells has been taking great strides at being a more sustainable business. We sat down with Jesse Guthery, Director of Dining Services, to learn about food waste disposal systems and other initiatives they have implemented.

Courtesy of Rick Beitman
Courtesy of Rick Beitman

Cafeterias and restaurants are notorious for generating a lot of waste whether it is food or containers they provide. There are many things that businesses can do to mitigate this problem and Chartwells (which operates our the Commons and our own Pub) has successfully implemented a lot of practices throughout the food preparation and serving process.

Initiatives include:

– Offering compostable and sustainable containers, cutlery and cups

– Turning pre-consumer waste into greywater

– Turning used cooking oil into bio-fuel

All containers have been changed to biodegradable items which decompose naturally in landfills and can be easily composted, plastic coffee stirrers have been replaced with wooden ones, and napkins provided are made from recycled paper. Likewise, all Styrofoam cups have been removed and the replacements are all made from 80% recycled materials. This means that when you use to-go containers you can throw them in the bin with the trash. “We recommend that students use the plates and cutlery available because it is the most sustainable and cost effective thing to do, however, if they have to take to-go containers we made sure to offer the best options available,” says Guthery.

ORCA Machine

Another important aspect is FOOD waste and crucial efforts to sustainably dispose of pre-consumer waste which has been implemented. “The used cooking oil is collected to be picked up and converted to biodiesel fuel by a specialized firm and we get a small check,” explains Guthery. The collection of pre-consumer fresh vegetables and fruit trimmings are collected in waste in buckets during the food preparation and they are fed to the ORCA machine.  ORCA takes 400 pounds of food waste and within 24 hours turns them all into “greywater” so instead of trash getting transported to the landfill it becomes water that is returned to the sewage system.

Miguel Jardin (MBA ’09, Panama) advocated the use of this system at the school and he later started his business collecting the water to use it as part of an organic composting venture. “We’ve been using this system for the past four years and even though there were some costs upfront it paid for itself many times over by halving the disposal costs alone,” adds Guthery. It works as demonstrated in this youtube video. (Check out more information at:

Guthery acknowledges there is still a lot to do and he would love to recycle more of the materials used in the kitchen, like the cardboard and the cans. “With the ASU partnership, I know they are trying to be a zero waste campus, these are some of the things I am hoping we will be able to introduce soon,” says Guthery.


Chartwells is a company.

Compass Group North America is the leading foodservice management and support services company. Throughout the U.S. and Canada, Compass Group North America has more than 220,000 associates in all 50 states, ten provinces and two territories. They serve 8 million meals a day – from vending and office coffee solutions to restaurants, corporate cafes, schools, arenas, museums, remote sites and more. 

Based in Charlotte NC, Compass Group North America is the leading foodservice management and support services company with $13.6 billion (£8.2 billion) in revenues in 2014. With over 500,000 associates worldwide, its parent company, UK-based Compass Group PLC had revenues of £17.1 billion in the fiscal year ending September 30, 2014. UK-based Compass Group PLC operates in 50 countries with over 500,000 associates worldwide delivering superior service for the highest customers experience.

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