Home News Reusable to disposable? OHS switches to styrofoam lunch trays

Reusable to disposable? OHS switches to styrofoam lunch trays

styrofoam lunch tray
Photo: Trent Delap, 42Fifty

This school year, Oswego High School switched from reusable plastic lunch trays to disposable styrofoam lunch trays. Oswego High School has been using reusable plastic lunch trays for a very long time. So, why would the trays be switched when the plastic trays were working out fine?

“The change in trays was not initiated by the district,” Executive Assistant to the School District 308 Superintendent Ursla Coan said. The decision was made by the company Aramark, which is the food service provider for the schools in School District 308. 

Out of 50 students surveyed, 60% said they preferred the plastic trays, 16% of students said that they liked the styrofoam trays, and 24% of students were neutral on the issue. The main concern of the students was the environmental impacts of this change.

“Styrofoam takes forever to breakdown, which means more waste will be created, further wreaking havoc to our environment,” junior Zach Frye said.

Senior Adam Snarsk shared similar concerns.

“I think the school made a huge mistake switching to these trays,” senior Andam Snarsk said. “Styrofoam is very bad for the environment, and this school probably throws away hundreds a day.”

At the school, there are six lunch periods. If only 50 students use a styrofoam tray from each period, that would come out to be 300 trays being thrown away per day. This means in a school week, at least 1,500  trays are thrown away, and that’s just for 300 students. There are almost 3,000 students at OHS.

District 308’s Aramark representative Patricia Alexakos explained that the switch was implemented because the styrofoam trays are the standard for most schools Aramark supplies.

“The five-compartment trays have helped minimize the amount of serving vessels used to serve student lunches on, which means less waste,” Alexakos said. “Besides, food spills have also decreased, which has lessened the potential for slipping accidents due to food on the floors.”

OHS students will just have to accept that the plastic trays may not come back for a while. 

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