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CER Brings Reusable Takeout Containers to the Dining Center

As students came back to Haverford after fall break, they may have noticed something peculiar: a big green machine located towards the front of the Dining Center. What could this be? 

This fall, in coordination with the Committee for Environmental Responsibility (CER) and Thomas Mitchell, Manager of Dining Services, Haverford installed a reusable take-out container system that uses students’ OneCards as a way of keeping track of the corresponding green takeout boxes. This apparatus called the OZZI machine (also known to students as “Wishy Washy Cleans Up Your Boxy”) was bought to reduce waste from disposable boxes. 

Using OZZI is quite simple: students swipe their OneCard to get a reusable takeout box and then swipe it again on return. Kian Williams ’22 said: “It’s super easy to use; I didn’t have any issues with it.”

The OZZI narrative started in spring 2019, when the college bought both the machine and around 900 takeout containers. However, because of the pandemic, the program ran into a few problems. Rebecca Chen ’22, a co-head of CER, said: “When COVID hit, everything changed because of the sanitation requirements and everything went to disposable tableware. So, we are bringing it back this year… We also bought the machine that OZZI makes that’s supposed to return the takeout boxes and give more accountability.” Because the meal plans wipe at the end of the year, the Dining Center had no way of knowing who had an OZZI box out and thus couldn’t penalize or reach out to students who hadn’t returned the containers. There is hope that this year, the issue will not arise with more involved computer programming.

In addition to these containers, the DC also tried implementing reusable plates, forks, and knives. Yet, this adjustment has been rocky. Just a few days into this change, both the dishwasher and back-up dishwasher broke down, meaning that the transition has been put on hold for the time being. With this in mind, once the dishwashers get fixed, Haverford’s environmental footprint will improve significantly. Convenience, moreover, is something to be accounted for: Williams added, “I feel like non-reusable containers are more convenient, because I can recycle the box myself and I don’t have to worry about the return.” Sarah Lydon ’25 shared a similar sentiment: “The cardboard boxes are so convenient for students with busy schedules,” she said.

In addition, there have been a few programming issues. Originally, the OZZI machine was not designed to be used with the OneCard system. Thus, the computer regularly glitches and has difficulty keeping track of all the boxes that are out. For example, if you do not keep the barcode up and wait the necessary minute for the machine to process a return, Wishy Washy Cleans Up Your Boxy won’t process the transaction.

“The machine will only have a positive impact if it is used in the long term and people return their boxes,” Chen warned. Although the programming is not the cleanest, there is a hope that this year will be better than the previous. With the help of the Dining Center and the students, the OZZI machine has the potential to be a large part of Haverford’s sustainability initiatives.

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