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Go Blue Box

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Program Information | What is Go Blue Box? | How does it work?
Why Go Blue Box? | Usage Practices | FAQs | Fun Facts


Program Information

Go Blue Box is a reusable takeout container program that offers a convenient way to grab food on-the-go from the University Club (U-Club). More importantly, it helps University students, staff, and faculty be greener Wolverines by reducing the number of containers sent to landfill. The program was launched in fall, 2012 as a pilot  and is currently only offered at the U-Club in the Michigan Union. Go Blue Box was made possible by a grant from the Planet Blue Student Innovation Fund, which enables students to launch sustainability projects on campus.

We'd love to hear about your experience using Go Blue Box! Send us your feedback, comments, or questions to Download a copy of the program contract.

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Go Blue food box with salad

What is Go Blue Box?

1. It's a durable, reusable takeout container
2. It's BPA-free
3. It's dishwasher safe
4. And it's microwaveable


How does it work?

There are (a few) easy steps to using Go Blue Box!
1. Pick up a clean container at the U-Club (near buffet table). Fill your container with a variety of delicious foods from the U-Club Buffet.
2. Pay a $5 refundable deposit for a clamshell and/or $3 for a soup container at U-Club check out counter.
4. Enjoy your food!
5. Return your Go Blue Box back to the Campus Information desk near the east entrance of the building and recieve a GBB card to show at the U-Club check out.
6. Pick up a clean container at the U-Club (buffet table), check out at the cash register or get your deposit refunded.

Note: If you just want to return the box and come back later for a clean container, ask for a Go Blue Box Card and present the Card to the U-Club cashier the next time you dine at the U-Club.

Why Go Blue Box?

Reduce the amount of waste you are responsible for! Disposable takeout containers create 4-8 ounces of trash per use, meaning that some of us are creating over 100 pounds of trash per per year. Go Blue Box is an easy opportunity to help bring that number down!

Go Blue Box reusable soup container

Good usage practices

  • Fill up the Go Blue Box with your food items from the U-Club.
  • Return your Go Blue Box once you’re done in the same condition as you received it and exchange it for a clean one.
  • Only bring your used Go Blue Box back to the U-Club or Campus Information desk. For the pilot program, no other cafe or restaurant can accept dirty Go Blue Box containers or provide you with a clean one.

Bad usage practices

  • Do not ask other food service locations to serve you food in a Go Blue Box -- you will be turned down since this violates state health regulations.
  • Do not carry liquids in your Go Blue Box clamshell -- although the clamshells are very durable and sturdy, they are not leakproof.
  • Do not write on or attach anything (such as stickers) to your Go Blue Box.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I use the Go Blue Box containers?
The U-Club at the Union is currently the only location that offers Go Blue Box. We are looking to expand this program to other locations on the Ann Arbor campus.

Can I return the Go Blue Box containers to other locations on campus?
No. The U-Club is currently the only location that offers Go Blue Box, and it is the only location capable of cleaning and sanitizing containers. The Campus Information desk is the only place where you can return the containers. Other locations will not take back your Go Blue Box.

Do I have to use the Go Blue Box containers provided by the U-Club?
Yes, you must use the Go Blue Box containers provided. Due to state law and local public health code requirements, the U-Club cannot allow any personal containers to be brought into our dining rooms or kitchens. These health codes were established to prevent any possible cross-contamination of food products that we serve.

What should I do if my Go Blue Box containers get damaged?
Please come to the registration table desk to grab a new Go Blue Box free of charge.

Are the containers leak-proof?
Unfortunately, while the clamshell containers are very durable, they are not leak-proof and you should take caution when carrying liquids and saucy/soupy items. It is best to carry the Go Blue Box in hand or upright in a bag, as you would a normal polystyrene container.

Are there any other benefits to using Go Blue Box?
Yes! Each week, one Go Blue Box participant is randomly selected and given our weekly prize: a voucher worth 1 lb of free food from the U-Club! Each time you pick up a new container and take food out in it, you will be entered into that week's raffle.

Fun Facts

  • According to the EPA, 780,000 tons of plastic polystyrene cups and plates were discarded in 2008.
  • Polystyrene foam cups are completely non-biodegradable, deplete the Earth’s ozone layer, waste enormous amounts of landfill, and are deadly to marine life. Each year Americans produce enough cups to circle the earth 436 times.
  • If kept in circulation for its usefual life (360 uses), one Go Blue Box causes 93% fewer greehouse gas (GHG) emissions and uses 90% less energy than the equivalent number of disposable polystyrene takeout containers. (G.E.T. Enterprises, LLC)

Figure 1. Life cycle comparison of greenhouse gas emissions for one Eco-TakeoutTM unit versus 360 polystyrene units

ec12-2-1=2.4 and 360 Polystyrene=35.64

Figure 2.  Life cycle comparison of embodied energy for one Eco-TakeoutTM unit versus 360 polystyrene units

ec12-2-1=12.02 and 360 Polystyrene=131.43
Sources and notes:
[1] Embodied energy is the total energy embedded in the product throughout its life cycle.
[2] Software and data base for Life Cycle Engineering, PE International GmbH an LBP University of Stuttgart, January 2007.
[3] *Resources are extracted, shaped into products, sold, and eventually disposed of in a grave or landfill* Cradle to Grave, pp. 27.