Protest action responsible for new cutlery

A poster action by staff has led to caterer Cormet procuring new cutlery. Plus waste in the TU restaurants will be collected separately from now on.

from February 1 waste at all TU locations will be collected separately by Cormet

Using posters hung in the canteen of the Civil Engineering and Geosciences faculty at the end of last year, staff expressed their criticism of the use of plastic cutlery by the caterer Cormet. The action was initiated by Paul van Gent, Marieke van der Tuin and Florian Schneider (CiTG, Transport & Planning Department). They also argued for the separate collection of waste, which at that time only occurred in the Aula and Pulse.  

The poster hung in the canteen of CiTG.

At the same time, Kristina Reinders and Lenie Wasmus (CiTG, Hydraulic Engineering Department) proposed in a submitted letter a return to the traditional metal cutlery and earthenware plates. This move was inspired by a European ban on disposable plastic that comes into effect in 2021.  


The posters and letter produced a chain reaction. In mid-January Cormet introduced new cutlery, and from February 1 waste at all TU locations will be collected separately by Cormet. Delta asked TU Delft campus facility manager Annemarie Diouf and process coordinator Philippe van der Pal for a detailed explanation. 


What was your reaction when you saw the posters?
“It affected us, especially because our supplier Cormet was being attacked,” clarified Diouf. Van der Pal mostly felt emotional. “I was really offended. We work hard with a dedicated group on sustainability, but this is a complex process and not visible to everyone.” Van der Pal pointed to the recycling of coffee cups. Last year the TU collected around 75 percent of all coffee cups used with the TU-logo. “But few people know that.”

“Perhaps we have been too modest,” suggested Van der Pal. “Although we did take action after seeing the posters. In the pilot we chose a type of cutlery that we thought could be recycled into ink for 3D-printers. With the first test shipment, it turned out that this was not the case. In addition, the old cutlery was not optimal in terms of sturdiness. The cutlery that recently arrived in all catering locations fits both aspects.”

Where do you store the used cutlery and what happens to it? 
Van der Pal explained, “It is collected in containers in the Aula’s basement. During measurements in mid-December, it was revealed that Cormet had recycled almost 1100 kg cutlery since September, but the client could only process batches of 50 kg. This meant that a lot of the cutlery was lost. We agreed with the company we work with to send test shipments regularly. Thus, we can ensure that the quality of the cutlery is always the same.”

The new cutlery suddenly costs 11 cents. If I bring my own food, I can’t just take a free fork. Why not?  
“You know, everyone brings cake on their birthday and takes plates and cutlery from the catering locations for the department,” said Van der Pal. “Because the new cutlery is considerably more expensive, I can imagine that Cormet wants to regulate its use.”

Is the revised waste collection also a result of the action? 
“Yes,” confirmed Van der Pal. “In the pilot we first collected separately only from the Aula and Pulse. From the beginning of February we are expanding the pilot to all catering locations of Cormet. It would be great if we could soon tell people that the recycled cutlery is actually being used as ink for 3D-printers.”

Currently in the catering locations, plastic, cutlery and residual waste are separated. Are there any plans to expand this in the future?
“We would love to build in an organic waste flow,” stated Van der Pal. “But the risk of vermin and pollution is too great in that case. That is why we are first focusing on the current waste flows. On the campus 2,000 tons of waste are collected annually. For now our goal is to collect the waste from all catering locations separately and have them processed. In February there will be pitches from companies who can support us in the process to realise our sustainability goals.”

Have you been in contact with the poster action group?
“No, they have not tried to contact us,” said Diouf. “We are open to discussing these topics. If you have any questions or even ideas about the content of the catering on our campus, then I invite you to come for a cup of coffee,” concluded Van der Pal. 

News editor Marjolein van der Veldt

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