Healthy and Sustainable Food Policy
Our Healthy and Sustainable Food Policy ensures that the University meets high environmental and socially responsible standards for the food offered and operations, and encourages and promotes healthy eating amongst students and staff.
Our 2020/2021 commitments:
- Provide a low-disposable hospitality service, prioritising plastic reduction
- Trial deposit return scheme for coffee cups
- Ensure that 50% or more of our food offers provided are vegetarian or vegan
- Ensure all our standard tea, coffee, bananas, chocolate (confectionary, cocoa powder, drinking chocolate) and sugar are Fairtrade certified.
- Provide carbon labels on the bulk of the food we make in-house to allow consumers to make informed choices
- Achieve 2 stars in the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) Food Made Good award in 2021
What we already do
- UCL achieved 2 stars out of 3 in the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) Food Made Good award, and will recertify in 2021.
- In a joint partnership UCL and UCL Union, UCL were awarded the 1 star Fairtrade University and College Award, following a student-led audit in 2020.
- Operation and Food Waste
- All vehicles are electrically operated
- Sell unsold prepared meals at a discount through app Too Good to Go
- Unsold food or hospitality leftovers are given to Zero Food Waste UCL to minimise any food waste
- All used coffee grounds at UCL are collected by Bio-bean, who process it into biofuel.
N.B Some items have been impacted by coronavirus, but will be reinstated by September 2021
- Powered by Plants
- Actively reduce meat content in our meals to support sustainable food consumption.
- UCL hosted the launch of WWF Future 50
- List vegetarian food first on menus above meat-based choices.
- Provide at least one vegan option within hospitality, catering and accommodation offers.
- UCL is a top 20 vegan university by PETA.
- Not serve any products on the red list of the Marine Conservation Society’s (MCS) Good Fish Guide ‘fish to avoid’
- Only buy free range eggs.
- Only use products containing palm oil which has Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification by 2021
- Only use soya products that are certified by the Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS) or ProTerra by 2021
- All menus to utilise seasonal produce.
- Ethical and Sustainable Food Sourcing
- Only Fairtrade Circulo Coffee is sold in UCL outlets and hospitality.
- All Bananas sold at UCL are Fairtrade. UCL’s most popular chocolate choices are Divine (Fairtrade), and Twix (Fairtrade). KitKat (Cocoa Plan Fairtrade).
- All meat is Red Tractor Farm Assured or sourced from suppliers who can demonstrate equivalent welfare standards.
- All fish within retail and residencies carry Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) chain of custody
- UCL Sustainable Food Working Group
- A pan UCL group, consisting of representatives from UCL caterers, Sustainable UCL, Union and Student Societies, which enables sharing of best practice and collaboration opportunities.
- Email SustainableUCL@ucl.ac.uk to find out more.
- Reporting and Communicating
UCL’s main catering provider, CH&CO, report progress against the policy aims, targets and KPIs, via monthly, quarterly and yearly reporting mechanisms, which are communicated to senior management. A public quarterly report is published on this webpage. See our latest report here
As part of the contract, UCL will commission an external catering consultant to conduct a full independent review of the contract performance, which will include all sustainability KPIs and this policy.
See below some of UCL’s sustainable food initiatives
Student and Staff Projects
We are always interested in staff and student’s ideas on sustainable food, and happy to support individuals and groups, whether it is a Living Labs research project or a new idea or product. The Sustainable Food Working Group is a perfect platform to present an idea and get feedback and thoughts from across UCL.
Some recent projects include
- Rice Inc.
In 2019, UCL began buying rice from Rice Inc, who are now called Paddi. Rice Inc was founded by UCL students. Their concept strives to eliminate food waste, promote sustainability and bring food security, by helping farmers nearly double their income from recovering rice which would otherwise be lost. UCL Innovation and Enterprise supported their idea, which went on and won the 2018 Hult Prize challenge, including $1million funding. Read their story here. CH&Co will continue to buy and use their rice in UCL meals.
CH&Co have had discussions with Milids, set up by a UCL student, who want to produce coffee cup lids made from grains, thus reducing plastic waste. CH&Co have offered insights into a catering provision.
Two student who were members of UCL’s Vegetarian and Vegan Society, Aashish Khimasia and Elena Bashkova, founded UCLFood4ThoughF4T campaign on UCL campus. They calculated and analysed the carbon footprint of UCL’s catering food purchasing. This baseline and the students support will be utilised to create carbon footprinting of meals in the refectory, in partnership with Foodsteps
In 2019, Sodexo partnered with the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering (CEGE), as four students conducted a living lab project on of single use plastic in the catering industry, using the refectory as a test bed. The project focused on the elimination of plastic cling film. Sodexo achieved a 28% reduction in cling film use, by adopting the measures suggested by the students: Replace open boxes with click close boxes Use cloth covers for tray and food trolleys instead of wrapping film, Increase the training and awareness