by Jake L., Concordia Applied Journalism
Concordia students love ordering food. A recent study confirms this. Within the Concordia community, a staggering 680 orders typically come through the gates per week. “Even if it’s a big order, like ten drinks, it will count as a single order…” says Ryan C., the leader of the Global Development Studies team investigating Concordia plastic waste. Orders arriving on this scale makes the actual quantity of plastic waste unimaginable.
As a response to the tremendous amount of single-use plastic waste generated by food delivery, a group of students from the Global Development class has stepped up to address the issue. Since a variety of factors can be responsible for plastic waste, they decided to split up the group into an internal and external part to engage with the issue. The internally-focused group takes the approach of finding the root of the problem from within Concordia. As a result, they discovered that bubble tea orders make up 15% of the total deliveries arriving at the school. Ultimately, they decided to propose the idea of collaborating with Aramark, the school’s official food provider, to make a “Bubble Tea Bar.”
On the other side, the externally-focused group examines opportunities outside Concordia and has been actively interacting with the restaurants in the neighborhood. Through research, they have found that adjusting the type of packaging material may be a practical way forward. One potentially viable solution is bagasse (pronounced be-GAS-se) “Because bagasse is made from pre-existing agricultural waste – specifically sugar cane pulp – the actual environmental impact of making utensils from this material is minimal,” says Jacob R., member of the investigating team. Encouraging food delivery companies to switch to bagasse offers a positive solution to the heavy single-use plastic challenge at Concordia.
The obvious rise in outside food deliveries was fueled mainly by the gap in service when Concordia abruptly released its onsite food supplier earlier this year. During the following period, families were asked to supply their own food for student lunches. Eventually, the preference for restaurant food gained traction among students and the number of deliveries – mainly for high school students – has increased radically.
To alleviate this startling preference for less healthy and plastic-wrapped food, Concordia’s Global Development Studies students are stepping up to be at the forefront of positive change making. Only time will tell if their research, which has already been presented to the school’s administration, are enough to lure people away from the taste and convenience of fast food, delivered right to the campus gate.