JMU Dining Services works toward reducing waste and plastic water bottles

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — James Madison University's dining services is doing its part to reduce waste in Harrisonburg, and they just hit a major milestone through the "Cupanion" program.

Cupanion allows students to scan a barcode each time they fill a reusable water bottle and it also donates water to other countries.

Angie Thompson, the director of operations at JMU Dining, said Cupanion encourages the use of reusable mugs and bottles. JMU's dining services parent company, Aramark, started using this program years ago and the university adopted it in 2015.

Students take a bar code and use an app to scan the bar code each time they fill a reusable water bottle. James Madison University has successfully hit a 10,000 benchmark, which means it diverted 10,000 single-use plastic water bottles from the landfill.

"We were so excited, the whole JMU Dining team was thrilled. We actually are in the process of creating a new orientation video that will not only highlight our achievements of this milestone, but it will also help educate incoming students," said Thompson.

Cupanion will donate water to other countries as people log their water on the app. Thompson said that this is just one of the efforts to reduce waste across campus.

James Madison University follows Aramark's "green thread" program, and one of the big goals of dining services is to donate leftover food to food pantries and composting waste.

Another effort JMU implemented this year was a "sip smarter" campaign to reduce the use of plastic straws.