Yumi EcoSolutions wants to bring their dining disposables to UConn.
Yumi makes both durable kitchen products, which are dishwasher-safe and made of bamboo as well as disposable alternatives to plastic and paper ware.
The company, which just celebrated its five year anniversary, first tried to approach major corporations with their idea. They wanted to, for instance, replace traditionally packaged meals for mail-order diet services with sustainable cornstarch or bamboo packaging.
Yumi employee Stephen Zoeller said companies were “very afraid to make a big change.”
Zoeller said that Yumi needed to prove to companies that the American consumer would support this type of product.
So they switched up their game. Now they try to sell to as many individuals as possible, to demonstrate proof of concept that can take their business to the next level.
Zoeller, a recent UConn graduate, thought that the university’s dining services would be the perfect customer.
“UConn was ranked as the most sustainable school in the country, so our products should be a good fit,” Zoeller said.
Director of dining services Dennis Pierce said he is familiar with Yumi’s compostable products.
After use they would be turned into soil, but Pierce said the university does not have a way to compost the products, and that’s why they decided to go with a different eco-friendly solution, post-consumer products.
“If you go to the Student Union and you get a cup of coffee,” Pierce said by way of example, “that coffee cup, in its former life, was something else.”
Post-consumer products will often say something on them like “I was once a math test,” to tell the consumer that the materials were repurposed. For instance, Peirce said, the black plastic ware the dining halls use when the dish washers malfunction are made out of coat hangers.
“We are always open to new products as long as they can be delivered through one of our existing distributers,” Pierce said.