ASUCR planning to install OZZI vending machines for reusable food containers

As of Oct. 31, ASUCR has been working on a project in tandem with UCR’s Green Campus Action Plan (GCAP) and UC Merced’s dining services to install plastic container vending machines at UCR dining commons for all students to have access to reusable food containers. Known as “OZZI” machines, these stations will be installed by ASUCR in dining commons across campus for faculty and student use. ASUCR hopes to install them in dining commons across campus for faculty and student use.

First introduced to UC Merced in 2011, OZZI machines have been sold to various universities and companies nationwide. At UC Merced, students at the dining hall swipe their student ID card for verification and payment for their meal, which the cashier packs in reusable food containers. The containers have a time restriction — once students have finished their meal, they can return the container by dropping it off in the OZZI machine.  

CHASS Senator Julian Gonzalez, a third-year political science major, is currently researching benefits of bringing OZZI machines to campus and believes that the long-term advantages of this project can have an impact on sustainability practices both on and off the campus.

In an interview with the Highlander, Gonzalez stated that he hopes that the efforts to promote a sustainable, eco-friendly environment on campus will pour into other programs at UCR. “A senator from last year did a project in which she took leftover food from the dining hall and distributed it to the food-insecure. In the process of making money through OZZI, we can support other programs that support issues like food insecurity.”

Fourth-year biochemistry major Amer Aldaas shared his opinion on implementing OZZI machines at UCR, stating that “the idea of having a tupperware vending machine would be very practical. My biggest concern would be how clean they would be after someone else used them.”

Gonzalez acknowledged the difficulties that accompany this large endeavor, but he hopes that ASUCR can work in tandem with UCR Dining Services and OZZI to make this a worthwhile investment. “The biggest issue is price,” Gonzalez said. “It is costly and expensive but we are so passionate about the benefits that would come out from it. Especially since our campus is home to a lot of lower income students; we can gain a partnership where using food containers from the OZZI are cost-free.”

With the recently established solar umbrellas near the Career Center and increasing number of Hydro Flasks on campus, the addition of OZZI machines may just be a step in the right direction, according to Gonzalez.

He hopes to see more sustainability projects be started on campus. Gonzalez stated, “[Such] projects are all equally impactful and they are all helping us to be more conscious environmentally. We need to stop being afraid of the price tag and start thinking of the benefits this can have in the long run.”  

Correction: An earlier version of this article contained the word “tupperware” in the title and throughout the story. This term is a trademark of Tupperware Brands Corporation and Dart Industries Inc., and refers to their products only, and not to the reusable plastic food containers mentioned in the article.

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