Tom Wright, CEO of OZZI, showcasing the reusable container.

Student Government is working with the university to introduce a reusable alternative to styrofoam to-go boxes in LSU’s dining halls.  

The containers, known as OZZI, are a more sustainable option that minimizes waste, said political science junior Gigi Powers, SG’s director of campus affairs and sustainability. 

According to their website, OZZI is a reusable to-go container designed to minimize the harmful effects of single-use containers. The containers can be returned to receptacles and then brought back to be cleaned. 

Tom Wright, CEO of OZZI, said the company that designs the sustainable containers was founded in 2013 and is currently in 48 states across 500 locations and 350 universities. He said each container can be used over a thousand times. 

The effort to introduce sustainable containers to the dining halls started as an SG initiative in 2020, Powers said. It was passed in 2021 with a test-run of OZZI conducted in the 459.

They ordered 2,000 in the beginning and were left with around 700. She said they ran into difficulty getting the boxes returned to the dining halls.

The test-run was funded through the student sustainability fund, a $2 fee on each student’s fee bills during the fall and spring semesters. 

“We kind of cut off the initiative because we needed to regroup and figure out ways that we can get students involved,” Powers said.

Powers said OZZI should be officially introduced across campus during the fall 2023 semester.

When the initiative is properly introduced across campus by the fall of 2023, Powers said that students will check out an OZZI container at a dining hall and then take it back to their dorms. Once finished with it, she said they'll be able to drop it into a receptacle either located in the dorms or one of the dining halls where they'll be cleaned and reissued.

While LSU is also working to use OZZI containers in athletic dining halls, certain infrastructure like drying racks and receptacles are needed for effective implementation.

Despite its origins as an SG initiative, LSU has taken over and is currently working to implement it. Powers said LSU wants 5,000 containers, each customized with purple LSU branding.

“They (LSU) were all eager and passionate that someone, a student, can advocate for them and push a project on the student side of things,” Powers said. “That’s really special and it was super encouraging that LSU is not sweeping sustainability under the rug so much as we’re trying to figure out the logistics of doing sustainable things.”

One of the challenges includes getting the necessary equipment to dry the containers after they’re used and getting the receptacles in place for students to drop the containers off, Powers said. Drying racks are necessary to sanitize the containers and take up a lot of space. The university is currently exploring methods to best incorporate them into dining halls.

Wright said he is excited to bring his product to LSU. He developed OZZI after many years of working in foodservice and seeing the need for more sustainable ways of operating. He said that over the long-term, OZZI will likely save LSU money since they won’t have to keep buying as many styrofoam boxes.

OZZI containers are also used in the healthcare industry and the military. 

“LSU’s a world class institution with a terrific student body that’s committed to sustainability,” Wright said. “We find that it’s very easy to engage students because they get it, they want a better world.”

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