Sustainable UCL


Student Action to reduce Food Waste at UCL

The student-led Zero Food Waste UCL project are working with Food at UCL and the Students’ Union to collect UCL’s food waste and redistribute it to St Mungo’s.

Three Zero Food Waste volunteers at the stall at their Sustainability Fair 2021

19 November 2022

Over one-third of food produced globally goes to waste, releasing high levels of greenhouse gases. If food waste was a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Tackling food waste is an essential part of our battle against the climate emergency.

Zero Food Waste UCL

The student-led Zero Food Waste UCL project are working with Food at UCL and the Students’ Union to collect UCL’s food waste and redistribute it to St Mungo’s, a local hostel, thereby reducing the institution’s waste and greenhouse gases.


The students have already saved over 100 items from the Student Union cafes going in the bin since November 2021.

Having recently started collections from Food at UCL cafes, this number is expected to rise to an extra 300 redistributed sandwiches per month.

Not only will this reduce the environmental impact of the institution, but it will also benefit those in the local community who may otherwise struggle to access food.

Food Waste Competition

Zero Food Waste UCL aren’t the only students on campus helping tackle food waste; the UCL International Development Hub ran a competition in collaboration with Food at UCL in autumn 2021 to source student solutions to real-life campus problems. The winner, Malena, a post-grad student at the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, won a meal for two for her idea to display a picture of the average meal sizes by buffets to encourage responsible consumption and reduce food waste from people overfilling their plates.

What you can do?

Despite these efforts, the biggest source of food waste in the UK is the food we throw away at home, with 70% coming from household waste, and 12% from hospitality.

Start following these simple steps to tackle the household food waste mountain:

  • Make sure you only buy what you can eat;
  • Prioritise using the food you already have over buying new food for meals;
  • Make sure you seal food properly in the fridge;
  • Use your freezer to keep leftovers.

If you’re interested in joining Zero Food Waste UCL, email them on ­­su.zerofoodwaste@ucl.ac.uk or message them via Instagram.