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November 8, 2023

Introducing Reusable Containers at KAUST’s Campus Diner

In a move towards better sustainable practices, KAUST has launched a Reusable Container Program at the campus diner, featuring Ozzi reusable take-out containers, as part of its commitment to minimizing single-use waste and endorsing sustainable alternatives.

The containers, comprising 20-30% recycled materials and tested for 1,000 washes, comply with stringent safety standards, ensuring a hygienic dining experience. For a one-time deposit of 20 SAR, users can select from three container types suited to their takeaway needs. After use, the containers can be returned for sanitization, with users having the option to either receive a clean container for their next meal or an exchangeable token for added convenience. Participants can exit the program at any time, returning their containers or tokens for a full refund of their deposit.

The initiative, part of KAUST’s pursuit of a zero-waste-to-landfill goal, was accompanied by other diversion incentives, including the charging for single-use take-out containers at the campus diner. All these efforts aim to contribute towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals—specifically SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities, and SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production—as well as Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, by enhancing urban life through improved waste management.

In recent years, KAUST has actively encouraged service providers to replace single-use plastic and unrecyclable materials like styrofoam with alternative takeaway container options, such as poly-coated paper and aluminum containers. However, challenges remain as the lids of these containers are largely non-recyclable and end up in landfills, while the recyclability of aluminum containers is contingent on their cleanliness, a condition often unmet, leading to their disposal in local landfills.

Emphasizing the principle that reducing consumption and raising awareness are paramount, the KAUST Students for Sustainability recently launched an awareness campaign at the Campus Diner to promote the use of reusable containers. The campaign effectively increased engagement, leading to a doubling of participants in the program.

With each container replacing hundreds of disposable items, the pilot program aims to pave the way for a KAUST-wide program including other retailers, which could have a significant impact on waste reduction within the KAUST community.

To learn more about waste at KAUST, click here.