Sustainable UCL


UCL Food 4 Good

UCL Food 4 Good is an official staff and student collaboration and working group looking at food waste and food poverty within UCL's communities and neighbouring communities.

3 women smiling next to a box of rescued food waste

10 November 2023

The environmental footprint of food production and consumption is enormous. According to WRAP, it is responsible for around 30% of global carbon emissions, contributes to 60-80% of global biodiversity loss through degradation and removal of natural habitats and is responsible for 70% of global freshwater use. Despite this, a third of food produced globally, 1.3 billion tonnes, is wasted each year.  

At a more local level, Guardians of Grub estimate that on average, 18% of food purchased by the UK Hospitality and Food Service sector is wasted. With this in mind, we are currently working together with our caterers, Gather&Gather, to better measure how much food we are wasting at UCL, with our current target to be wasting no more than 5%. The priority for us is to first prevent food waste at its source, only ordering what is needed and not over-serving portions individually and during events. Inevitably there will always be a degree of imperfection and small percentages of food waste may go uneaten and so as part of the UCL Food 4 Good collaboration we aim to facilitate the redistribution of leftover food items to good causes. This will help minimise the environmental footprint of our catering activities whilst benefiting local communities.  

Who’s involved? 

Food 4 Good contributors include: 

  • Students’ Union UCL and the Zero Food Waste project;
  • UCL Sustainability; 
  • UCL Student Support & Wellbeing;
  • Gather&Gather (UCL’s catering partners).

What are we doing now? 

As a group, we are actively looking at ways that UCL can reduce or divert food waste – either by making sure that we don’t order too much food in the first place, or working to ensure that excess food can be given to those in our community who have need of it. Student volunteers currently work via the Zero Food Waste society to redistribute excess food to food banks and homeless charities in the Bloomsbury area, and we’re looking to expand this work by creating volunteering opportunities to staff and introducing community hubs on campus for students to pick up surplus food. 

  • If you would like to be involved, or have ideas or contacts that could help, please contact Sandy Brummitt

What you can do to help: 

  • Students can sign up to volunteer with the Zero Food Waste project via their website and follow @zerofoodwasteucl on Instagram for more info. 
  • As the project progresses, we’ll also be looking for staff to volunteer – watch this space!