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Purdue Leads the Way in  Sustainability

We don’t just talk the talk, we walk the walk.

Here at Purdue, we not only research ways to improve sustainability, we implement them on a daily basis. We strive to be more conscientious global stewards from the way we feed students on campus, to the amount of waste we produce, the way we source our food and the energy we use.

We’ve even gotten some awards for our efforts! Check out the details below.


We grow it, we cook it, we donate it- all in the most sustainable way possible.

Student Farm

Dining & Culinary partners with the Purdue Student Farm to bring fresh, high quality food to the table. Utilizing the Purdue Student Farm promotes local sustainability and advances educational opportunities for Boilermakers. The Purdue Student Farm provides vegetables and herbs with an emphasis on diversity, healthy soil, healthy plants and healthy people – all while providing an educational laboratory for students, who manage the property through coursework, internships and campus organizations, and perform research alongside Purdue professors. Our investment in using Purdue Student Farm is an investment in our University and its people. Buying from the Purdue Student Farm provides a direct connection for our students and staff to see how they impact the process of bringing food to market, from farm to table.

Products from the Purdue Student Farm are used in Earhart, Hillenbrand and Windsor Dining Courts. Dining & Culinary purchases 24 different items such as kale, parsley, cherry and grape tomatoes, onions, beans, various peppers and microgreens from the Purdue Student Farm to meet the needs of its customers.

Purdue Research Farm

The partnership with the Purdue Research Farm continues to grow, with apple harvesting increasing by 43 percent. Over 30,000 apples were picked by staff and 45 volunteers.  Corn, cantaloupe, watermelon and Roma tomatoes were also harvested.

Farmer's Market

Local growers are on campus for the Purdue Farmer's Market every Thursday from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. August through October.


Dining Courts

Harvest Week during Green Week – Annual lunch during Green Week that reaches more than 8,000 students.

Earth Day – Annual seed planting, hosted in the dining courts each spring, with a Student Farm representative displaying a bed of microgreens and educating the students as they plant a small container to grow in their room.

Food Donations

At closedown periods, food is donated to the local food bank. Apples from the Purdue Farm are dropped at the ACE Student Pantry on harvesting day. The university’s chapter of Timmy Global Health, along with Purdue Dining & Culinary, have teamed with Lafayette Transitional Housing Center (LTHC) to help provide food for homeless families. Leftover food from The Gathering Place, located on the ground floor of Meredith Hall, is packaged and transported to LTHC by Timmy volunteers twice a week.

Swipe Out Starvation

Students can choose a “Swipe Out” card as one of their four items in On-the-Go! for a donation split between the local Back Pack Program and an international focus.




The three R’s- reduce, reuse, recycle. We take them seriously.


Long before the dining courts, Purdue introduced pulpers to compress food and napkins at the dish return. Where this “Yak” once went to be composted, it is now sent to the anaerobic digester at the West Lafayette Wastewater Treatment Plant where it is turned into methane to help power the plant with the by-product going to local farmers.

Paper Straws

The transition from plastic to paper straws was implemented in conjunction Purdue’s sesquicentennial celebration. This includes On-The-GO! locations in the dining courts and Marriott Hall. Dining & Culinary officials estimate 650,000 plastic straws were used in campus dining locations last year. According to the National Parks Service, Americans use an average of 500 million straws every day, which amounts to approximately 182 billion straws per year.  Read the full press release here .

Recycled Napkins

In addition to implementing paper straws, new ECOLOGO® and Green Seal™ certified white napkins for Dining are made from 100 percent recycled fiber, 90 percent of which are post-consumer fibers and are compostable.

66 percent, or 6,852,000 napkins used on campus are a 13-by-12-inch brown dispenser napkin that is 100 percent recycled, single ply, certified EcoLogo, green sealed certified.

Reusable Cup Program

All residential students are presented with a cup to use at On-the-Go! locations throughout the year to cut back on paper cup usage.

High Oleic Soybean Oil

In 2019, Purdue transitioned to the use of a healthier, sustainable and allergen-free fryer oil.
Read the article to see all of the ways the change effects campus and the community.

Zero Waste Events

Spring Fling 2013 was the first zero waste event diverting 1,170 pounds of waste from the landfill. This continues as an annual initiative.

Pallet Recycling

Used pallets are either exchanged with the vendor or recycled. Damaged pallets are sent to a company to be turned into mulch.

Tray Free Dining

All dining courts removed trays during the Fall 2013 semester and realized an 18 percent reduction in post-consumer food waste as students started taking smaller portions.

Cardboard balers

Three dining courts installed balers to handle the volume of boxes. Ford Dining Court can produce 3-4 bales a day as they serve 6,000 – 8,000 meals per day.

Biodiesel Production

Purdue diverts more than 8 tons of fryer oil and realizes revenue from the used oil.

Deliveries on Campus

Campus food and supply delivery routes are evaluated and adjusted annually to maximize productivity. A contract with Coca-Cola requires that deliveries be made with a hybrid truck.

Green Cleaning Program

Produces the sanitary conditions required in food service while reducing chemical use to protect the health and safety of custodial and food service workers, Purdue’s dining guests and the environment.

Shrink Wrap Recycling

Pilot project with the University started in July 2017. In six months, 1 bale (1320 pounds) was collected.

Bottle Cap Recycling

Partnership with the Green Greeks organization to collect enough bottle caps to have a bench made for Purdue Dining & Culinary.

Pete's Za Pizza Boxes

Entry in 2017 Recyclemania Tournament was the national winner in the Waste Minimization category. 



Save energy- save the world. It's what we do.

Our energy saving commitment

The Purdue University policy is to purchase Energy Star equipment for all products that are eligible for the EnergyStar rating. All new snack machines use LED lights, saving 50 percent of the energy used by a standard snack machine. Vending has an energy saving initiative which started in 2010 implementing a lights out campaign on Coca-Cola beverage machines when no one is using them. To save water, pre-rinse spray valves were installed on all commercial kitchen sinks. By reducing water use, these devices also reduce water heating energy and sewage treatment costs.



Sustainability is a big job, and we can’t do it alone. Meet our partners in the effort.

Piazza Produce

Automatically replace non-local with local product when pricing is comparable.

Indiana Grown

Purdue Dining & Culinary is a member and participates in their initiatives.

Purdue Butcher Block

Collaboration with the Food Science Butcher Block resulted in 7,400 pounds of sausages featured in Wiley Dining Court throughout the year.

Soybean Farmers

Pilot project in partnership with the School of Agriculture and the United Soybean Board with local high-oleic soybean oil in 2016. Sagamore Restaurant continues this partnership.

Red Gold

Purchasing locally grown and processed products from this vendor located in Elwood, IN.


Recently established a plant in Warren County, IN and is a partner in Purdue Dining initiatives.

Other partners





Awards for sustainability efforts? We got ‘em!

NACUFS Sustainability Entries

Gold for Waste Management 2013
Bronze for Procurement Practices 2014
Bronze for Procurement Practices 2017


Won Case Study Competition for Waste Minimization in 2017.