As many students may have noticed, the Styrofoam containers in the cafeteria that used to contain the take-away lunches and dinners are no more. The replacement, a teal box known as the “eco-clamshell,” is reusable and microwaveable. All a student has to do is use the box and return it to the cafeteria to be exchanged for another.
While the environmental benefits are fairly solid, the fiscal matters have been up in the air. Have these “clamshells” been good or bad for the Knox pocketbook?
Some have wondered if these clamshells cost the Knox community more money than they saved. In previous years, Knox used to buy 120,000 Styrofoam containers annually, which cost roughly $4,200. This year, the clamshells cost $6,000. However, Dining Services Director Helmut Mayer estimated that we would be able to continue using them for three years.
If one imagined that one-sixth of the clamshells required replacing every year, then Knox would be paying $9,000 over three years for the clamshells. Meanwhile, the Styrofoam containers would cost the college $12,600 over that same three year period, making the eco-clamshells appear to be both economically and environmentally sound. If the fact that it is unlikely that one-sixth of the clamshells will need replacing is taken into account, the lucrative nature of the clamshells becomes even more evident.
Mayer’s environmentally friendly vision should allow for a few extra dollars to be spent in improving other areas of the dining services. According to Helmut, hopefully students will soon be seeing a new refrigeration unit for the Gizmo, as well as new cooling machines in the cafeteria.