“Little things” that Dining Services is doing to promote sustainability:


  • Veggie PizzaGreat tasting made-from-scratch food is served in all of our dining halls. By serving food that tastes great, guests enjoy more and waste less. Starting with whole ingredients not only improves the quality and taste of the food, but it reduces much of the waste associated with using canned and packaged convenience ingredients. The result has been a decrease in year-over-year purchasing by 11% allowing us to improve the quality of each meal and decrease waste at the same time. 


  • Portion sizes are key to reducing the amount of food waste. The vast majority of food waste on our campus is due to students adding more to their plates than they wish to eat when dining in our all-you-care-to-eat dining halls. We help prevent this by serving standard USDA portion sizes and educating students on the impacts of taking more than you can enjoy today.


  • Hydroponic Garden: Mean Green Acres at Mean Greens Café is a repurposed freight container that now produces 650-750 heads of organic, non-GMO leafy greens per week. It only uses about 1 gallon of water per day. Growing our own greens for Mean Greens Café and other locations on campus reduces pollution from shipping, reduces packaging waste and conserves water. 


Coffee Beans


  • Sustainability partnerships and education make us more effective in our sustainability efforts. By partnering with sustainability groups on campus, we create new ways to save resources by educating our guests on ways they can help reduce, reuse and recycle.  


  • Purchasing from local sources is our preferred method for everything we use in our dining halls. By purchasing local we save money and reduce our carbon footprint. When we can’t find something from a local vendor, we look for items made in Texas or the southwest region. 



  • We purchase “Unusual but Usable” produce. These are fruits and vegetables that may have appearance flaws but are delicious and usable in our kitchens because we start from scratch. By sourcing this type of produce, we help farmers eliminate waste from their growing process.


  • A Prime Vendor is used for most of the purchasing on campus. By using a prime vendor, we streamline the number of deliveries made to our dining facilities. This cuts down on pollution and saves fuel which reduces our carbon footprint. 


  • Reusable Cutlery, Glassware & China is provided in all five of our resident dining halls, Avesta Restaurant and Verde Catering. This effort decreases the amount of single use disposable waste going into local landfills.



  •  Our food menu management technology empowers us to accurately forecast our ingredient needs based on historical use and avoid overproduction by preparing only what we need for each meal service.


  • Our closed-loop production approach strategically eliminates food waste in the rare case of overproduction. For instance, if a catered event yields an extra tray of unserved cookies, those cookies will be routed to Clark Bakery and made into ice cream that will be served at Kerr Dining Hall. We adhere to FDA food safety standards to ensure all foods are held at proper temperatures and used within acceptable timeframes.


  • “Green” Chemical Line: Dining Services uses a ‘green’ chemical program that is safe, sustainable and Earth-friendly. The chemicals we use are concentrated solid formulations that utilize innovative packaging and dispensing methods that use less water and energy; reduce harsh chemicals and waste that is released into the environment; and reduce transportation costs associated with bulky chemicals. 


  •  Recycling: UNT Dining Services recycles all cardboard in all retail and resident dining locations. In addition, we have recycling bins located near all of our dining facilities that encourage guests to recycle glass, plastic and aluminum containers. 


  • Water Conservation: To reduce water usage, all dishwashing machine outlets have a special nozzle that regulates water usage, and we monitor our dishwashing cycles monthly to maximize the efficiency of our dishwashing activity and decrease water usage. Additionally, the ice machines used in the Dining Halls are air-cooled instead of water-cooled. Most water-cooled ice machines use a once-through cooling system, where the water used to cool the machine is subsequently dumped down the drain. The switch to air-cooled machines saves about 12 million gallons of water every year. 


  • Trayless dining halls and retail restaurants: Dining Services eliminated the use of trays in all of our dining halls and most retail restaurants. By removing trays, we decrease food waste, conserve water and energy and reduce the use of cleaning chemicals. Removing trays reduces food waste by 25-30% per person and conserves almost 1,900 liters of water annually (Business and Cultural Acceptance Case for Trayless Dining, 2008).  

Hand Cutting Food


  • Recycled Napkins: All of our retail and resident Dining Halls use recycled paper napkins made from chemical free post-consumer recycled paper. 


  • Fewer Straws: In our Corner Store and Campus Chat Food Court in the Union, we moved single-use plastic straws from being available right next to the soda machines to behind the registers so that they were available “upon request.” We added signage to explain the change and encourage guests to reduce their plastic straw usage. This small but impactful change was met with very positive feedback from the campus community. 


  • Sustainability and food insecurity are issues that we take seriously. By embracing the sustainability and waste-reduction principles outlined above, we’re able to keep our prices low and quality high, all while doing our part to reduce landfill waste. With more than 10% of Denton County college students facing food insecurity, UNT Dining Services serves as a valuable resource that provides affordable, wholesome food to nourish body and mind.