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What We’re Doing

As part of Make Orange Green, UT’s campus-wide sustainability initiative, Vol Dining works with the Office of Sustainability, UT Recycling, other campus units, and dining vendors to continually develop and implement sustainable solutions for our campus. Here are just a few ways we work to make our campus more environmentally conscious.

windenergyLocal Purchasing

Vol Dining sources food from many local farmers, growers, and distributors to stimulate the local economy and reduce our carbon footprint. The list changes throughout the year depending on seasonality and availability.


Vol Dining has recycling bins for paper, plastic, aluminum, cardboard, and steel products in all campus dining locations.


More than 10,000 lbs of food waste and coffee grounds are collected from dining locations each week, including coffee grounds and pre-consumer food waste at all large campus dining locations. Post-consumer food waste is collected at several other locations, including Presidential Court Café.

Southern Kitchen is working to become the first front-of-house composting dining location, which means even more food waste is diverted from the landfill and can instead be composted and turned into soil for our campus.

Plates and utensils used at orientation events are compostable, making the lunches zero waste events.


The Mug Project

Due to COVID 19, we are unable to take reusable mugs or cups at any of our locations at this time.

UT students, faculty, and staff can bring their own mug of twenty-four ounces or less and receive a one-dollar and nineteen-cent drip coffee or fountain beverage, a savings of forty cents or more. The program also offers 15 percent off specialty coffee beverages. More than 90 percent of Volunteer Dining locations are participating, including Starbucks, Einstein’s, Quiznos, and Subway. Offer is not valid at Chick-fil-A.

wateruseTrayless Dining

Dining trayless minimizes food waste, conserves energy and water, and reduces the amount of cleaning chemicals entering the waste stream. During the Destination Imagination event each summer, serving 72,800 trayless meals has saved 109,200 gallons of water.

energyFood Donation

Through a partnership with UT Recycling, Volunteer Dining donates left over food from orientation to the Food Recovery Network. We donated over 15,000 lbs of food during the 2017-2018 school year.

recycleReusable Condiment Containers

Reusing and restocking condiment containers at all our dining locations saves one metric cube of landfill space per week — about the size of a refrigerator.

solar_energyReusable Dishware

We divert 23,000 pounds of waste from the landfill each year by providing reusable dishware and eliminating Styrofoam from use* on campus.

*Exception: Chick-fil-A

naturalgas_energyFryer Oil Recycling

100 percent of used fryer oil is recycled. Approximately 5,000 gallons are collected per year and taken to be converted to biodiesel.


Tennant Floor Scrubbers

Electrically converted water technology for floor cleaning eliminates the environmental impact of producing, packaging, transporting, using, and disposing of traditional cleaning chemicals. Ec-h30 begins and ends as water and uses 70 percent less water than conventional scrubbing methods.


Hydration Stations

Vol Dining offers several hydration stations throughout campus. Use these free, filtered water stations to refill your reusable bottle and prevent single-use plastic bottles from entering the landfill. Since 2012, the campus community has diverted more than 2 million plastic bottles from the landfill, thanks to these hydration stations.

recycleRecycled Content Paper

We use recycled-content office and copy paper in many dining locations on campus.

energyEnergy-Efficient Lighting

Energy-conserving light bulbs are installed in all campus dining locations, and lights and computers are turned off when not in use by employees.

wateruseEnergy & Water Conservation

We train our employees each semester on common energy and water conservation practices in order to conserve precious natural resources.

solar_energyFair Trade Coffee

Fair trade coffee is available on campus through two brands, Starbucks and Java City.

compostBleach-Free Napkins

All dining locations use bleach free, 100-percent-content recycled napkins.