top of page
Saint Mary's College

Saint Mary's College

Saint Mary's College

Read this case study to learn how Saint Mary’s College went from a failed token-based reusables program to immediate results with Topanga’s ReusePass program!

Key Results

  • 96% return rate

  • 11 uses per container

  • 2X weekly reuses per diner

  • < $0.30 estimated container cost per reuse

  • Expanding into on-campus coffee shops


"I use the [ReusePass] program several times a week. I have a crazy schedule, and I love how easy it is to take meals back to my room or to club meetings without creating waste!" – Student at Saint Mary’s College



With a student body of 3,900, Saint Mary’s College has transformed their campus environment into a living laboratory for equitable and sustainable solutions. Their Sustainability Committee leads institutional efforts to advance sustainability on campus and beyond through education, research, community engagement and campus operations.



Saint Mary’s was using a token-based reusables program and were disappointed with the results. Students failed to return the reusable containers, and overall engagement with the program was low. In addition to losing reusable container inventory, operators noticed that dine-in plates were disappearing. They knew they needed to find a new reusable to-go program that ensured high return rates, meshed with their campus culture, and could easily be implemented.



After discovering Topanga, Saint Mary’s was excited to implement a ReusePass reusables program because it hit all the marks:

  • Drives accountability to ensure students' return containers

  • Adds value to the unique campus atmosphere and sustainability ethos of Saint Mary's

  • Intuitive and simple for operators to use


Program Design, Setup, and Launch

Prior to launching, the Good Eating Company at Saint Mary's and Topanga partnered together to:

  • Determine the starting inventory and best manufacturing partner to purchase reusable containers from, selecting Whirley 3-compartment containers.

  • Outline a bespoke service design to determine operational best practices for container scanning and returns.

  • Conduct an operational site-visit with a Topanga-led operator training, ensuring that key stakeholders on the ground were confident and ready for launch day.

  • Print and disseminate Topanga’s turn-key marketing signage to help with user onboarding.

  • Strategize the program parameters, including making ReusePass mandatory for all to-go orders and charging a $5 late-fee.

In Fall of ‘23, Saint Mary’s launched a mandatory ReusePass at their main residential dining location.



After launch, Saint Mary’s was excited to see high average return rates at 96% with 11 reuses per container. Diners averaged 2X weekly reuses which estimated the container cost per reuse to be less than $0.30.

They found that the staff and students were more engaged with the sustainable mission thanks to sharing real-time impact data from Topanga’s Dashboard. One of the main operators helping execute the program noted that ReusePass has been a “huge success,” especially when compared to the previous program.


Student Engagement

Topanga has also launched a student ambassador program on campus, working with 5 students and running tabling events with the Green Gaels and the CCA fellows to raise awareness for the program further and educate the community on the benefits of reuse.


"The [ReusePass] Program has enabled me to manage my busy life as a student more efficiently and has provided a convenient way to make my lifestyle more sustainable." – Student at Saint Mary’s College


Program Expansion

As ReusePass continues to provide immense value to Saint Mary’s and their sustainable efforts as a campus, the Topanga and the Good Eating Company team are planning future expansion opportunities, including introducing reusable cups to the program for Fall '24 at an on-campus coffee shop.


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

Considering reuse for your business? Let's chat.

Thanks for submitting - our team will follow up with you soon!

bottom of page