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Boston University

Boston University

Boston University

Learn how Boston University launched ReusePass in their Retail dining locations with Topanga's Grubhub integration.

Key Results

  • 95% return rate

  • 90% reach across the undergraduate population

  • 10+ uses per reusable asset on average, making it 45% cheaper per use than single-use packaging

  • Over 200k open container loops

  • Average 2-day return rate thanks to ReusePass SMS accountability texts

  • 78% reduction in disposable packaging

  • Extra funds to reinvest in the growing program + support other operational needs thanks to single-use surcharge and late fees


"We have seen amazing customer and employee engagement around the Choose to Reuse program. The rollout of this program was seamless and positive financial impact is better than we could have imagined. Our students love the commitment to providing a sustainable option and improving the sustainable footprint at Boston University." – Dan VanAvery, Boston University Director of Retail Operations



Boston University and its dining team, BU Dining, have been committed to reducing their environmental impact across all aspects of university life––from sustainable renovations of existing buildings and construction of fossil-fuel-free facilities to their rigorous Zero Waste Plan.

Boston University offers dine-in only for traditional dining halls, so retail dining is the main source of to-go volume and is a massive operator cost for their 32K student body. Knowing that there was a huge opportunity to reduce waste in campus dining, BU Dining began looking into the reusable packaging programs.



BU Dining tried other tech-enabled reusable programs but experienced poor return rates and low student accountability––both which took a toll on their program's overall ROI. Additionally, the previous program lacked an integration with Grubhub which made it impossible for them to scale successfully.



After deciding to pause their previous reusables program, BU Dining learned about ReusePass' integration with Grubhub and became interested in the possibility of switching programs. The decision became even more clear when BU Dining learned that ReusePass is a packaging-agnostic reusables program, meaning customers can use whatever packaging they prefer or already have. In this case, BU Dining already had thousands of containers they'd purchased from their previous program and were excited to hear those didn't have to go to waste. Lastly, after looking for data-driven ways to improve their return rates, BU Dining was drawn to Topanga's emphasis on data, accountability, and program success.


Program Design and Setup

To ensure a successful program launch, Topanga first executed a site visit at Boston University which included operational training and setup. They then worked closely with the BU Dining team to operationalize the program and ensure that ReusePass fit easily within their existing day-to-day operations.

The Topanga ScanApps that were used by operators for student container checkouts were placed next to existing Grubhub technology for easy operational execution, making for a near seamless launch. The ScanApps that were used for back-of-house operations, which included scanning in returned containers, were placed next to dishwashers.

Topanga worked with the BU Dining team to deliver turn-key launch signage to raise awareness and increase program education. The teams also strategized on a special launch-day promotion to generate engagement from day 1 by offering the first 20 diners that use ReusePass on launch day a reusable coffee mug!

Last but certainly not least, Topanga partnered with students on BU's campus as a part of Topanga's Student Ambassador program to join forces with the BU Dining team to support unique tabling events, continual program education, and program milestone promotions.


Program Launch

After the extensive program setup, student-body program education, and marketing signage support, the program successfully launched in the Spring of 2023 at 7 retail locations within the student union building, including high-volume national brands like Panda Express.

BU Dining's Choose to Reuse program with ReusePass is a 100% Grubhub-integrated, mobile-ordering reusables program, with integrated diner and operator experience with existing Grubhub tools. It is an optional program with three dining options: 1) dine in for free, 2) use single-use to go with a surcharge, or 3) choose to reuse via ReusePass for free and incur late charge fees if returned late. The single-use surcharge has proved to be an excellent lever for encouraging widespread ReusePass adoption and making the ROI tangible to the school.

BU Dining launched with 3 different asset types and with return bins located in the GSU student union where the retail locations were located.



Since launch, the program has garnered a 95% return rate and a 90% reach across the undergraduate population. They have seen a 78% reduction in disposable packaging and over 200k open container loops. Their reusable container utilization rate averages at 10 uses per reusable asset, making it 45% cheaper per use than single-use packaging. Their return rate averages at a 2-day-long return timeline thanks to ReusePass SMS accountability texts. Thanks to single-use surcharge and late fees, they have now realized extra funds that they can now reinvest into the growing program and support other operational needs.


"ReusePass has given me insight into how sustainability is for everyone. Being environmentally conscious can feel like a burden sometimes when as an individual you feel you can't make as big of an impact. But making a reuse system so easily accessible that I see it all over campus, proves that anyone can make a difference. I use ReusePass multiple times a week because it's so maintainable!" – Boston University Student Ambassador


Program Expansion

In the Fall of 2023, BU Dining expanded their ReusePass reusables program to Saxbys coffee shop where they introduced a new asset type, stainless steel coffee mugs (see picture below), and opened 5 other reuse locations on campus.

Alongside launching new locations, the BU Dining has introduced new return bins and return operations that continue to improve their return rate.

In December of 2023, BU Dining and Topanga installed an RFID read-zone in their back-of-house operations for labor-free container tracking.

In January of 2024, the reusables program expanded to the School of Law Cafe.

BU Dining is excited to continue expanding its ReusePass program to Einstein Bagel, along with more coffee shop locations across campus.


We'd be happy to introduce you if you're interested in setting up a call to learn more about Boston University's experience!

Considering reuse for your business? Let's chat.

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