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New cafeteria lunch containers help make North more sustainable


Innovative reusable lunch containers came to North’s cafeteria this week in an effort to help students become more sustainable.

Recirclable, an organization allowing eco-conscious schools and restaurants opportunities to reduce waste, will provide reusable lunch containers for students and faculty to check out, using an app and scanning a barcode, according to the group’s co-founder Margie Bell. The containers provide an alternative to single-use take-out trays.

“Students will be able to check out containers from the hot food and salad bars with QR codes,” said Bell. “Once returned after use, the containers will be washed and sanitized to be used again.”

Recirclable’s goal is to eliminate all single-use containers and cafeteria dishes by replacing them with reusable bowls, Bell said. The organization plans to conduct case studies on the weight of waste prevented from going into landfills or incinerators.

“A huge majority of ocean waste is from food and beverage trash such as takeout containers,” added Amber Schmidt, a Recirclable associate.

Bell explained that much like checking out library books, students will scan a blue QR code on the wall and use the eco-friendly dish. To return their containers, students simply scan a red QR code and drop their dishes into a bin to be sanitized for reuse.

Co-founders Bell and fellow co-founder Ulrike Mueller developed the system in 2021 after realizing takeout containers’ negative impact on the environment. The founders met while working in Europe, witnessing this system in action and were inspired to bring its eco-friendliness to Boston. 

Recirclable also provides local restaurants with the option to reuse dishes. It currently services 15 locations in Massachusetts with reusable containers.

“We would love to see 50 students a day using this system, meaning 1,000 containers a month would be saved from being trash,” said Bell. “It’s open to everyone!”

Matt Delaney, the general manager of Whitsons Food Services, had previously tested out the Recirclable program in Wellesley and decided to bring it to North. Because the app includes tracking on the bowls, there is less likelihood of them going missing, according to Delaney. 

“We’re hopeful this can lead to a culture shift at our school regarding plastic waste,” said Delaney.

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Nya Lubars
Nya Lubars, News Editor
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