- Research shows that increasing the proportion of plant-based meals improves health and is good for the planet.
- The meat and dairy industry produces 60% of agriculture's greenhouse gas emissions and is considered to be the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, habitat destruction and land desertification.
- Reducing meat consumption improves health and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, some cancers and type 2 diabetes.
What can I do?
- Make a Powered by Plants pledge: some departments at UCL have gone 100% vegetarian including the SMT.
- Order the Vegan and Vegetarian offerings available from your caterer on campus and at events. There are many options to choose from. They are advertised before the meat options on campus, and are the standard for events catering (meat dishes are still available on request)!
- Learn more about food at UCL by following this link.
- Explore the catering brochure and book catering by following this link.
What can I do?
- Let your invitees know that you will not be providing disposable cups and that they will need to bring their own reusable cups or mugs. This might sound like a shocking thing to do at a high-profile event, but we have trialled this at various events including the ‘It’s All Academic Festival’ and it was warmly received and sparked sustainability conversations.
- Use UCL's catering service on campus and at events: they don't sell plastic water bottles or sachets of sauce, have radically reduced their single-use plastic in their kitchens, and their pre-packaged sandwiches come in 'wedges' with plastic-free packaging. They are always working towards reducing their single-use plastic usage.
- Participate in the CLUBZERO zero-waste cup deposit scheme operating across the wider King's Cross area. Go to CLUBZERO or search for it in the app store to download the app so you're ready to take part when you buy coffee or tea. Then all you need to do is ask to use a reusable cup and show the barista your unique CLUBZERO ID on your phone. Once you've finished your drink, return your cup to one of the bright yellow cases in UCL's cafes, where it'll be returned to be washed, and the cycle continues. Please return your cup, or you'll be charged £5.
There can be a lot of food waste at events at UCL.
What can I do?
- Contact your caterer to advise you on portion size.
- Contact the UCL Zero Waste Society to find out if they can collect leftover food at your events.
Sustainable catering at UCL FAQ
Biodegradables and Compostables
We all want to reduce plastic use, but switching to biodegradable or compostable options unfortunately doesn’t help the environment.
When things are marketed as ‘biodegradable’ or ‘compostable’, it means that they will break down eventually under specific conditions. It does not mean they can go into food or recycling bins at UCL.
Food waste at UCL goes to anaerobic digestion (to be turned into energy). Biodegradable and compostable material interferes with this process. Similarly, these types of packaging contaminate the recycling. They must go into the black refuse bins for incineration.
Incinerating biodegradable plastics in many cases can release more harmful toxins than conventional plastic alternatives. Avoiding biodegradables and compostables all together is best!