Trayless dining helps reduce waste, conserve water, and save energy. Without trays, less uneaten food is discarded each day. Water and energy are saved by not having to wash trays. UGA's five dining commons have practiced trayless dining since 2015 in partnership with the Office of Sustainability. 

After studying the impact of trayless dining, UGA Dining Services took a big step to reduce waste by removing trays from their five dining commons. The department worked with the UGA Office of Sustainability to collect data during a two-week test period. Snelling Dining Commons was set as the control. During the test’s first week, trays were provided in Snelling as normal. The plate waste that came through the tray return was measured by volume and weight. During the second week, trays were removed from Snelling and the same measurements were obtained. The water meter was also monitored to see how water usage would be affected with no trays to wash.

Benefits include:

  • 26.7 percent reduction in plate waste
  • 16.4 percent reduction in water usage during the week without trays
  • 107,142 pounds of food saved per semester across all dining commons
  • 16,550 gallons of water saved per semester across all dining commons