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Cornell University

Reusable Takeout Containers

Each year, millions of disposable paper and styrofoam containers end up in landfills after just one use. As part of Cornell Dining's Sustainability Action Plan, we're taking steps to reduce the use of single-use disposable containers. Guests who'd like to take their meals to go at several of our eateries have the option to use a reusable container.

Cornell Dining is partnering with Fill it Forward to offer reusable takeout containers at nine dining locations, including Morrison Dining and North Star Dining Room on North Campus, Okenshields and Straight from the Market on Central Campus, and all five of our West Campus House System dining rooms.

Containers are available for purchase for $5 at each of these dining locations. Fill it up, enjoy your meal, and return it for cleaning and sanitizing. Use the Fill it Forward app on an iOS or Android phone to track your return, and then scan a new code to receive a new container whenever you need it.

How the program works:

  • Purchase your container from a door checker with Big Red Bucks, Cornell Card, or major credit card.
  • Receive a confirmation slip from the door checker, open the Fill it Forward app, and tap the Scan button to scan the unique registration code. This will register your container in the app.
  • To return the container for cleaning, scan the QR code on the return sign next to the return bin, then scan the QR code on the container you're dropping off, and you'll see a blue checkmark in the app! Then you can drop the container in the return bin.
  • To receive a clean container, scan the QR code on the new container and show the blue checkmark to the door checker.
  • If you'd like to eat in the dining room and take a meal to go for later as well, that's fine! Just ask the door checker to record two meal swipes.
  • Please remember to wipe food residue out of your container as soon as you're done with your meal and return the container to one of our dining rooms for cleaning within a day. 
  • If you don't return your container within a few days, the Fill it Forward app will remind you. We reserve the right not to accept excessively soiled containers for return.
A closeup of a person's arm depositing a plastic container in a bin. Above the bin, a sign says scan here to return your reusable container

Using the Fill it Forward app, you can track the impact of your use of reusable takeout containers. Every scan unlocks a donation and tracks the impact of diverting another single-use item from our landfills and oceans.

Use your reusable takeout container at:

  • Okenshields and Straight from the Market on central campus 
  • Morrison Dining and North Star Dining Room on north campus
  • Jansen's Dining Room in Hans Bethe House, Rose House Dining Room, Cook House Dining Room, Keeton House Dining Room, and Becker House Dining Room on west campus 

Reusable takeout containers are not available at and should not be brought to Risley Dining Room (which is gluten-free, peanut-free, and tree-nut-free) or 104West! (which is certified kosher) due to cross-contamination concerns.

Even when you're not on campus, these reusable containers are perfect for carrying food from home, going to a picnic, or heating up your leftovers. They're dishwasher-safe and microwave-safe. (Please reheat your food in the microwave for 1-2 minutes on low or medium power, and repeat as needed. Microwaving at full power for more than a minute or two may damage the container.)

Before you leave at the end of the semester, use the Fill It Forward app to return your reusable container in the return receptacle at any of our participating dining rooms. You'll have a credit on your account to pick up a freshly sanitized one when you return next semester. Not coming back next semester? You're welcome to keep your container, or return it for others to reuse.