Hold the receipt: Students cut paper waste

By Abbey Reighard and Harrison Kaminsky / The Pitt News Staff

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Some students are shred up with crumpled receipts in backpacks and pockets. 

Paperless, a student group, wants to reduce the amount of paper waste on campus, according to member Sean Huzinec, a junior majoring in environmental studies.

The group’s current initiative, “Let’s Beat the Receipt,”  aims to reduce the number of paper receipts at Pitt. The group wants the University to utilize BlackBoard to email receipts to students. Starting Monday, campus cashiers will not automatically offer paper receipts, but students can still request copies of their receipts. 

However, locations like Einstein’s, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and Chick-fil-A must follow corporate policy, which requires receipts, according to Abdou Cole, Sodexo’s resident district manager. Cole is still calculating how much waste Pitt will potentially save through the initiative, he said.

The group — which also includes Haleigh Wright and Amanda Smoluk — met with Jim Earle, assistant vice chancellor for business, and Cole Thursday afternoon in McCormick Hall to discuss the completion of the initiative. After the meeting, Earle and Cole agreed to support the project.

Earle said Dining Services will work with Sodexo to fulfill the initiative and assist Paperless with future initiatives.

“Any reduction in paper waste will be considered a success,” Earle said. “But the opportunity is very significant, since Sodexo serves 30,000 meals per day on our campus.”

Cole said Sodexo is training cashiers on the program and is putting signs at the registers informing students of the initiative.

He expects the training phase to end on Monday. Supervisors will instruct cashiers to withhold receipts unless the student specifically requests one, Cole said.

Shannon Achille, a senior rehabilitation sciences major, initially spearheaded the project in the spring 2013 semester as part of her sustainability and computing class.

“They wanted us to come up with something we could implement and actually see through to the end, and I saw the project as something that would be helpful to Pitt,” Achille said.

Achille said she brought her proposal to then-SGB president Gordon Louderback during summer 2013, and Louderback then pitched the project to Cole and Earle in fall 2013.

“They loved it because it’s only going to help us in the long run,” Achille said.

Achille then allocated more of her time to other initiatives, she said — and that delayed the receipts project. The project hadn’t seen much progress since fall 2013 — until this semester.

The meeting between Huzinec, Wright, Smoluk, Earle and Cole marked the resurgence and implementation of the initiative. 

“We wanted to carry on [Achille’s] torch and see if we could complete this project,” Smoluk, a junior majoring in environmental studies and history, said.

Wright, a senior majoring in scientific computing, acknowledged that the absence of paper receipts will require an adjustment on campus. 

“Although we’re well on our way to accomplishing a receiptless dining experience, it needs to become commonplace and habitual, which will take time, but will happen,” Wright said.

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