Resource Conservation


At Northwestern Dining all of our dining halls are Food Recovery Verified by the Food Recovery Network as a program that sends surplus food to people, not landfills! We proudly display our Food Recovery Verified decal at the entrance of our locations and work to divert as much food as possible by donating food weekly to Campus Kitchens at Northwestern University. Annually, Northwestern Dining donates more than 6,000 pounds of food to Campus Kitchens.

Student volunteers from Northwestern's Campus Kitchen collect excess food from dining halls, repackage it, and deliver it to impoverished, disabled and elderly Evanston residents. It aims to reduce food waste and provide nutritious meals to community members in need.

To volunteer at Campus Kitchens at Northwestern please visit:

Composting is the latest effort to reduce the amount of waste we send to the landfill. Composting provides a more environmentally friendly use for our food waste that cannot be donated like, preparation scraps, out of date food and post consumer waste, as well as our paper waste, like napkins and paper cups. We compost in all five of our Resident Dining Halls as well as the Norris Center. Northwestern Dining is committed to partnering with sustainNU on Northwestern University's goal of increasing it's waste diversion rate by 50% by 2020. 

With the help of sustainNU, Northwestern Dining has been recycling for years! All of our dining locations use single stream recycling to divert cardboard, paper, metal, glass and plastic from the landfill. Northwestern Dining is committed to partnering with sustainNU on Northwestern University's goal of increasing it's waste diversion rate by 50% by 2020.  

Learn more about recycling on campus through the sustainNU website.

Green Grease Environmental collects and filters our used cooking oil. After our cooking oil is filtered Loyola's Clean Energy Program converts it into biodiesel. Every week, 100 gallons of this biodiesel is used in our Free Enterprise shuttle buses! The glycerin byproducts from this process is turned into soap that is used at Loyola, and the entire operation supports research to find other ways to generate renewable energy from traditional waste materials. 

Choose to Reuse is a residential dining takeout program aimed to accommodate students’ busy schedules as well as reduce disposable takeout container waste.

 Purchasing & program details:

With the Choose to Reuse Program Card, you can take food to-go from Elder, Foster-Walker and Fran's Cafe. You can purchase your program card online or in person at any of the participating locations.

When you're ready to Choose to Reuse, simply swipe in (or purchase a meal), and let your cashier know that you'd like to Choose to Reuse! Hand the cashier your Choose to Reuse program card in exchange for your reusable container. Fill up your container and go! Bring back your rinsed container and exchange it for another or get your program card back to use it on another day.

Visit the Gifts & More page of the Northwestern Dining website to purchase your program card.

GRALevel1.VectorIn April of 2017 Northwestern Dining became the first BIG Ten school to sign a contract with the Green Restaurant Association! Currently, Northwestern Dining is working with GRA to become Green Restaurant Certified in six locations on campus by the end of 2017. These locations include Sargent, Elder, Foster Walker East, Foster Walker West, and Allison Dining Halls and Harry's Café on the downtown Chicago campus. With its turnkey certification system, the GRA is making it possible for Northwestern Dining to become more environmentally sustainable in energy, water, waste, food, chemicals, disposables and building operations. 

For more information on GRA, please visit:

The 'Cats Cup program provides an additional option for students to purchase and reuse a specific Northwestern Dining mug, which allows students to refill at a discounted pricing structure from touch screen ValidFill machines.

Program details:

With the purchase of a ‘Cats Cup, students receive access to refill options atsevenValidFill beverage dispensers across campus. Locations for the ‘Cats Cup program include Sargent and Elder dining centers, Lisa’s Café, Tech Express, Foster Walker Market, Fran’s Café and Norris food court. The ‘Cats Cup program allows Northwestern Dining to offer a wide variety of beverages at a low cost to the customer while reducing the number of disposable cups, straws, bottles, and cans from entering the waste stream. 

Pricing details:

  • Purchase a ‘Cats Cup and get access to the fill plans below – $9.99 with three fills. 
  • Tiered-pricing fill plans: 1 fill – $1.99; 5 fills – $7.00; 10 fills – $10.00.  
  • Unlimited fill plans
    • Quarter-long unlimited fill plan – $35/quarter
    • Quarter-long unlimited fill plan w/ ‘Cats Cup included – $44.99.
    • Special promotion—purchase unlimited fill plan before April 1, 2018 and enjoy unlimited fills through June 15 for only $35. 

Visit any participating location to purchase your 'Cats Cup and fill plan. 'Cats Cups can also be purchased online at the Gifts & More page of the Northwestern Dining page.

Bring Your Own Mug (BYOM) is a sustainability-focused marketing campaign and pricing structure in retail and residential locations for students who bring their own mug (any size up to 20 oz.).

Location & program details:

  •  All dining centers – BYOM to take coffee or hot tea to go with you at no additional cost.
  •  Select retail locations - BYOM to purchase a drip coffee for $1.25 (plus tax).  Locations include: Lisa’s Café, Bergson Café, Tech Express, Kresge Café, Einstein Bagel, Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, and Wildcat Den. 
  • Self-serve Starbucks and Peet’s coffee machines – BYOM and receive a discount of $0.25 on coffee beverages.

At Northwestern Dining we have tray-free dining in all of residential and retail locations. Washing one tray uses 1.5 KW of electricity. By going tray-free, Northwestern Dining reduces its energy consumption and carbon footprint. Tray-free dining prevents excess grease and detergents from being washed down drains and reduces food waste by encouraging students to take only what they can fit on their plates!

Tray-free dining reduces our post consumer food waste by roughly one ounce per plate and saves Northwestern University 200 gallons of water for every 1,000 meals served!