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Stockton University 2020 Proposal for Wooden Cutlery


Kevin Kinsella, Steven Garcia, Rebecca Hilbert, Amanda Archer, Catalina
Cadavid, and Chris Emery
ENVL 4300
Dr. Tait Chirenje
Stockton University
04/13/2018
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Abstract

Plastic products like disposable cutlery have a wide array of uses, taking over reusable cutlery in
many applications. Unfortunately, it is the significant quantity of plastic being disposed of that
has made plastic cutlery such a problem across many platforms. The amount of plastics in
landfills is the most predominant problem associated with plastic cutlery. Biodegradable cutlery
from wood and other plant-based products, such as corn/potato based, are alternative
recommendations that can help direct Stockton towards using more renewable resources. This
proposal attempts to challenge Stockton University to further promote on the “New Jersey’s
Green University” statement by replacing plastic cutlery with biodegradable alternatives. This
proposal offers a timeline as well as proposed activities to help the transition from plastic to
biodegradable cutlery. One of the key ideas to gain support is advertising “environmentally
friendly” on dispensers so the community understands the changes being implemented. This can
possibly expand beyond the Stockton community, helping nearby residents/ businesses transition
to biodegradables. The proposal also relays the financial implications related to transitioning to
biodegradable cutlery. Plastic products are very cheap, being the main reason they are so widely
used. Because of this, an increase in $48.86 of each dinnerware load is expected. The price
increase will obviously lead to hesitancy to switch, so this proposal recommends test runs and
surveys to ensure success. Following these recommendations will assist Stockton University and
possibly the nearby community towards reducing the effects of plastic products.
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Table of Contents
Abstract 2

Mission Statement 4

Statement of Need 4

Project Rationale 5
Reduces the Amount of Plastic in Landfills 5
Renewable Resource 5
Upholds Stockton University’s Sustainability and Environmental Stewardship Values 6
Creates Consumer and Community Influence 6

Proposal Narrative 7
Goal 7
Proposed Activities 7
Timeline 8
Finance 9
Evaluation 9
Alternative Recommendations 10

Conclusion 11

References 12

Appendix 13
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Mission Statement

Our mission is to provide the students, faculty, and visitors of Stockton University with

an efficient and sustainable form of cutlery. We look to improve upon the current plastic cutlery

with a biodegradable wooden form of cutlery to reduce the amount of plastic heading to landfills

from Stockton University. We are a “Green and Distinctive” school, and as such we should

strive to be reduce our footprint in every way possible.

Statement of Need

With approximately 8,000 students per semester, as well as the faculty, staff and visitors,

the population at Stockton University is rather large. The plastic cutlery currently in use is made

from fossil fuels and hydrocarbons. These utensils are used and disposed before ending up in

landfills. Plastic waste also makes its way into rivers, lakes, and oceans, adding to the pollution

problem and leeching harmful chemicals into the environment. Stockton University carries the

title of “New Jersey’s Green University”, a sustainable initiative can be supported through

switching from harmful plastic cutlery to a biodegradable wooden cutlery. This sustainable

change will support our LEGS initiative, Learning, Engagement, Global Perspectives, and

Learning. Eliminating the use of plastic cutlery will be educational for our students and will

encourage students to become more involved in the primary focus of Stockton University

sustainability.
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Project Rationale

Reduces the Amount of Plastic in Landfills

​Wooden cutlery carries many benefits, motivating several colleges and businesses to

deploy this simple sustainable practice. One of its biggest benefits is the reduction of plastic

waste. ​In 2014, 258 million tons of municipal solid waste was generated, with 33.5 million tons

of this being plastic waste​, only 8.8% of this plastic waste was recycled (EPA, 2014). Plastic

waste is not biodegradable, this results in it having a long-life span and taking up space in our

landfills and leeching harmful chemicals into the environment. Plastic waste sometimes makes

its way out of landfills, coupling that with plastic that is littered, a lot of plastic winds up in our

waterways where it breaks down into smaller pieces of plastic. These small pieces of plastic are

ingested by wildlife and then by us. By making the switch to biodegradable wooden cutlery,

Stockton University can locally reduce plastic waste, making Stockton a more sustainable school

by cutting our contribution to environmental harm.

Renewable Resource

Plastic is harmful to the environment and its inhabitants, additionally it is a

non-renewable resource. The main ingredient for plastic is petroleum, currently petroleum is

abundant and cheap. This will eventually change as we continue to consume it at an increasing

rate. Petroleum will eventually become a scarce resource which will result in an increase in the

prices of plastic products. Wooden cutlery is grown sustainably and is certified by the Forest

Stewardship Council. These practices will influence the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions,

as well as promote economic growth. Additionally, wooden cutlery is the most affordable form

of biodegradable cutlery adding to its benefit. This will allow Stockton to continue this practice
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long term, even eventually switching to a more sustainable, but higher priced, cutlery that is

corn/potato based. Switching away from plastic cutlery is inevitable, Stockton University can

get ahead of the curve with the wooden cutlery now, making the transition now will be more cost

effective, rather than in the future.

Upholds Stockton University’s Sustainability and Environmental Stewardship Values

Stockton proudly embraces the title of “New Jersey’s Green University”. This title has

been obtained through its sustainable building practices and unique academic environmental

programs. Stockton employs several sustainable practices, such as recycling, geothermal energy,

and in kitchen composting, but there is not enough being done to reduce our plastic waste.

N-Wing uses reusable silverware and ceramic plates, partially alleviating the plastic waste issue.

Further employing practices like this, such as wooden cutlery, throughout all dining areas will

help Stockton University uphold its sustainability and environmental values, adding credibility to

the title of “New Jersey’s Green University”.

Creates Consumer and Community Influence

In addition to the environmental and moral benefits of this sustainable switch, Stockton

University can create consumer and community influence. Stockton can be the model for

sustainable dining in southern New Jersey. This change will influence local schools, businesses,

and industry to follow this green practice. Stockton can benefit by acting as a facilitator or

consultant on such changes, gaining some monetary value in the process. Partnering with

companies such as the ACUA, will make this option more financially viable in the short-term,

while the increase in sales will inevitably reduce the cost of biodegradable products as they

become normalized.​ Stockton will also gain more recognition, possibly leading to an increase in
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enrollment from possible students. Stockton should look to forge past just a physical presence in

South Jersey, it should strive for an intellectual presence through spreading cutting edge ideas.

Proposal Narrative

Goal

The goal of this proposal is to reduce the amount of plastic produced by Stockton

University by replacing plastic cutlery with wooden cutlery in all dining areas. Further

implanting sustainable practices at Stockton University.

Proposed Activities

Stockton University currently uses SmartStock cutlery with dispensers from Dixie GP

Pro. They come in pre-assembled refills for easy restocking, along with “environmentally

friendly” skins on the dispensers to promote sustainability. Although, the cutlery being used is

not safe for the environment as advertised. We propose that Stockton Dining and Chartwells use

wooden cutlery in designated dining areas in place of plastic cutlery that they advertise as

sustainable.

After a meeting with Chartwells, we understand that cost effectiveness is the most

important component of this proposal. The Chartwells Residential District Manager, Stephanie

Moye, informed us that changing cutlery will rely on vendor cost and product effectiveness. We

also received interest from Brian Weiss, the Executive Chef. Greenstaurant is an earth-friendly

company that provides ​Eco-friendly Wholesale Food Service Disposables. They sell Eco

Gecko​TM​ 6.5” compostable, disposable wooden utensils on their site. Eco Gecko​TM​ wooden

cutlery is made from high-quality birch wood that is taken from re-harvested plantation forests.
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This cutlery is very sturdy, the knives cut steak, they can handle salad, and all cutlery can be

safely used with hot and cold food, they are also 100% biodegradable.

We propose a trial run for 2-3 weeks using cutlery from Eco Gecko​TM ​, at all or select

dining locations across campus (cutlery shown in appendix figure 1). Stockton clubs that

support sustainability, such as Waterwatch and S.A.V.E., will be incorporated in this plan. Club

members can advertise the environmental benefits of using wooden cutlery over plastic cutlery

by handing out brochures and posting flyers in the dining areas where the trial run is taking

place. ​After the trial weeks, a survey produced and given by the clubs may be conducted to gain

consumer feedback on the cutlery from faculty and students. Chartwells and Stockton Dining

would then have the opportunity to listen to feedback from the consumers​. Then use this

information to either continue the sustainable cutlery initiative, make essential changes, use

alternative recommendations, or continue using their current cutlery supplier.

Timeline

We will begin the implementation of wooden cutlery in the 2018 Fall semester. The first

phase will consist of a trial period, 2 weeks in length. This will be to see how faculty and

students feel about using wooden cutlery over plastic. Assuming all goes well during the test

phase, we will finalize cutlery specifics and logistics with Chartwells, then begin implementing

the wooden cutlery or alternative recommendations in the aforementioned locations across

Stockton University.
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Finance

Through a meeting and several e-mail communications with Chartwells we were able to

obtain the cost breakdown of the cutlery they use (Email in appendix figure 2). They buy 24

packs of forks, 24 packs of knives, and 24 packs of spoons with 40 pieces in each pack, each

pack costs $27.22. This is about 960 forks, 960 spoons, and 960 knives for a total price of

$81.66. The sustainable wooden cutlery we are proposing does carry a higher cost. The least

expensive company we found is Eco Gecko​TM​. They sell packs of forks, knives, and spoons with

1000 pieces for $48.34. Shown in appendix figure 1. The price for 1000 forks, 1000 spoons,

and 1000 knives is $145.02, which would be a price increase of $63.36. The website that hosts

these vendors, Eco Gecko​TM ​and Primeware​TM​, is called Greenstaurant, which is currently

running a special with a code that will get you 10% off all purchases for the length of your

business with them. With this special, the wooden cutlery would drop to $130.52, so the price

increase would drop from $63.36 to just $48.86.

Evaluation

We understand that the price increase may cause Chartwells to become hesitant into fully

approving the change to wooden cutlery. This is why we recommend the 2-3-week trial run. A

small amount of the compostable cutlery or plates could be laid out alongside the current

plasticware with signs explaining what they are and what we are doing. If these are selected over

the normal plasticware, we will know that there is an interest in this greener option. After the

trial period, we will conduct a survey that asks the students if they approve of this

environmentally friendly option and if we should continue with the compostable cutlery as a

permanent part of the school.


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Alternative Recommendations

We understand that the corporate environment or improper timing may make it difficult

to implement some proposals. With this in mind, we will provide alternative options that may be

easier to implement or can be combined with this current proposal to make a larger impact.

Some of these alternative recommendations can also be a next step in biodegradable cutlery as

Stockton’s commitment to greener practices evolve. The alternative recommendations include:

1. ​Biodegradable to-go food containers or plates: ​This focuses on another wasteful aspect

of dining. In replacing styrofoam/plastic to-go containers or plates with a biodegradable

option like sugarcane, we can reduce the amount of plastic waste. This alternative may be

easier/cheaper to implement and/or can be used in addition to our current proposal for a

larger impact. It should be noted that buying compostable plates would be cheaper than

the plates that Chartwells currently uses. The plates they buy come in a pack of 100 and

they buy 4 packs for $51.75. So, for 400 plates at this price the cost is about 13 cents a

plate. The compostable sugarcane plates are from a company called Primeware​TM​ and

come in a pack of 1000 for $63.03, this is about 6 cents a plate. See appendix figure 3.

The option is also backed by Executive Chef Brian Weiss who is willing to push for its

introduction.

2. Corn/potato starch-based cutlery: ​This is seen as a future improvement on the current

proposal of wooden cutlery. Corn/potato based biodegradable cutlery breaks down faster

and has a smaller footprint than wooden cutlery. Although, the cost is significantly higher

for this option. We do expect this option to decrease in price as the biodegradable
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industry gains popularity and their demand increases. Once this price comes down it can

replace the current proposal.

Conclusion

Overall, the aim of this proposal is to further promote sustainable practices across the

Stockton University campus. It will be guided by the EPA’s sustainability principle which

states: “Everything we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly,

on our natural environment. To pursue sustainability is to create and maintain the conditions

under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony to support present and future

generations” (EPA, 2016). This proposal supports this principle by promoting the use of

renewable resources and reducing the amount of plastic waste in landfills and the environment.

Introducing this practice of biodegradable cutlery can influence students and the surrounding

community to implement these same practices inside and outside of the Stockton University

campus.
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References

Eco Gecko™ 6.5" Wholesale Disposable Compostable Wooden Cutlery. (n.d.). ​Greenstaurant​.
Retrieved April 11, 2018, from
http://www.greenstaurant.com/pages/utensils/gecko-utensils.html

EPA. (2014). Municipal Solid Waste Generation, Recycling, and Disposal in the United States:
Facts and Figures for 2012. Washington, DC: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. Retrieved from:
http://www.epa.gov/osw/nonhaz/municipal/pubs/2012_msw_dat_tbls.pdf.

EPA. (2016, October 18). Learn About Sustainability. Retrieved April 11, 2018, from
https://www.epa.gov/sustainability/learn-about-sustainability#what

Savannah. (n.d.). The Positive Impact of Biodegradable Products on Our Eco-System. Retrieved
April 09, 2018, from
http://savannahnaturehouse.com/the-positive-impact-of-biodegradable-products.php
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Appendix

Figure 1:Shows the online retail of the Eco Gecko wooden cutlery proposed as the replacement.
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Figure 2: Email from Chartwells with the prices of their current cutlery vendors.

Figure 3: Shows the online retail of the compostable plates for the alternative recommendations.