Sustainable UCL


Fairtrade at UCL

UCL has received Fairtrade University 1 star status from the NUS Fairtrade University and College Award and continues to support the principles, ethos and aspirations of Fairtrade.

Fairtrade coffee

What is Fairtrade?

Fairtrade is about better prices, decent working conditions and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers. It’s about supporting the development of thriving farming and worker communities that have more control over their futures and protecting the environment in which they live and work.

Fairtrade sets social, economic and environmental standards for both companies and the farmers and workers who grow the food we love.

Why is it important? 

Fairtrade ingredients are produced by small-scale farming co-operatives or plantations that meet Fairtrade social, economic and environmental standards. When you buy products with the FAIRTRADE Mark, you support farmers and workers in improving their lives and their communities. If you are wondering how:

  • Fairtrade is the only certification scheme that has a minimum saftey net price providing essential economic stability for workers;
  • The Fairtrade Premium delivers an extra payment directly to farmers and workers offering them the ability to build and develop projects for the future;
  • Fairtrade Standards require farmers and workers to be organised, inclusive, democratic and accountable, thus providing the strength to negotiate and protect a fairer deal.

Fairtrade sugar
Know the labels:

  • Products made entirely with 100% Fairtrade ingredients can use the Fairtrade mark (on the left).
  • Products which use some Fairtrade ingredients can display the ingredient-specific Fairtrade mark (logo on the right - to suggest they use Fairtrade cocoa).
  • You can find out more about the labels here.

A coffee farmer picks coffee beans from the plant



Where does the Fairtrade Premium go?

Every time you buy a product with the FAIRTRADE Mark, the producers receive the guaranteed minimum Fairtrade price, plus an additional social premium to invest in their communities for the future. These payments are laid down in the published Fairtrade product standards and are not dependent on the retail price of the final product (for example, chocolate). In fact, retail price fixing is against EU and UK Competition Law. To ensure the farmers get the better deal, they are paid at the point of sale when their produce is sold for export.

Fairtrade and environmental sustainability:

Fairtrade products have a role to play in the Climate Crisis and there are many ways this trade is tackling the issues:

  • Avoiding Emissions - The Fairtrade Standards aim to minimise the emissions produced in Fairtrade products through the application of lower-impact farming techniques.
  • Adaptation - The impacts of the Climate Crisis are already hitting the Global South: by providing higher incomes, training and support, farmers and workers are better able to adapt to these changes and save for unforseen setbacks on their holdings.
  • Advocacy - Campaigning for Fairtrade, in countries like the UK, ensures the voices of the workers and their calls to action are heard by policy makers.

What is UCL doing about Fairtrade?

Purple sign showing one star Fairtrade University Award
2022 - The Fairtrade University and College Award

UCL and Students’ Union UCL jointly participate in the NUS Fairtrade University and College Award and following an audit in May 2022, UCL has achieved “Fairtrade University 1 star status”. This recognises UCL’s many different activities that take place to promote Fairtrade, including purchasing Fairtrade products, campaigning, teaching, research and outreach.

The award is valid for 2 years, until June 2024. UCL intends to develop further work and action plans in order to achieve 2 star award in 2024.

Fairtrade Policy

UCL and Students' Union UCL have a joint Fairtrade Policy.

Action Plan

Our Fairtrade Action Plan provides our aims and objectives to support Fairtrade and increase promotion, engagement and support throughout UCL. 

Sustainable Food Working Group

This working group was set up to be responsible for co-ordinating UCL's commitment to the Fairtrade University Scheme.


  • Coffee – UCL’s house coffee is Cicculo, responsibly sourced, Fairtrade, dark roast coffee, made exclusively for UCL’s caterers CH&CO (Gather&Gather) by Union Roasted
  • Bananas - All bananas sold are Fairtrade
  • Tea – UCL’s tea is Fairtrade Clipper and Hope & Glory
  • Chocolate – CH&CO stock Fairtrade chocolate from Tony's Choco Lonley, Seed & Bean, Maltesers and Divine, plus Cocoa Life dairy milk


All tea, coffee and sugar served in hospitality (catered events), at UCL is Fairtrade. Fairtrade orange juice, apple juice and wine are also available.


CH&CO’s staff uniform are made from Fairtrade Cotton

The UCL Shop now stocks Global Organic Standard (GOTS) and Fairtrade clothing lines.

Fairtrade Fortnight

Every year, we co-ordinate with students and staff on a range of events to promote the Fairtrade campaign. The Fairtrade Foundation supports anyone looking to run an event or campaign and you can find more information, inspiration and free resources on the Fairtrade Fortnight 2021 website

For more information about sustainability in UCL’s catering provision, visit Food At UCL .

2022 - 2024 Progress Action:

The following codes relate to the Action Plan as mentioned above.

Fairtrade chocolate

MN001 - Sustainable Food Working Group

Sustainable UCL has established the UCL Sustainable Food Working Group, consisting of representatives from UCL caterers, the Sustainability Team, Students' Union UCL and Student Societies. The group leads on sustainable food projects, including Fairtrade promotion.

MN002 - Action Plan

This Action Plan co-ordinates UCL's Fairtrade work.

CL002 - Fairtrade Talks

Sustainable UCL has worked with the Conservation Society to host a Fairtrade talk at one of their regular mini conferences, to address Fairtrade's role in biodiversity and agricultural sustainability. This is a collaborative project with UCL's caterers, Sodexo, and the Fairtrade Foundation itself.

MN005 - Fast Fashion

During term time, UCL hosts a monthly Clothes Swap Shop that raises awareness around the detrimental impacts of clothes production on the environment and the social inequalities in the industry. Find out when the next Swap Shop is on our News and Events page, and don't forget to bring that jacket you haven't worn in 2 years to swap for something new!

MN006 - Fairtrade Clothing

The UCL Shop now stocks Global Organic Standard (GOTS) and Fairtrade clothing lines.

Our caterers, Sodexo, have also purchased Fairtrade uniforms for all of their front of house staff.

MN009 - Fairtrade Survey

We have also created a survey to understand what people's perceptions of Fairtrade are at UCL. Fill out the Fairtrade Survey to share your experience with us.


What can I do?

Buy Fairtrade:

Where possible and feasible for yourself, buy products with the Fairtrade Mark. There are over 6,000 products, from coffee and tea, to fresh-cut flowers and even gold, that are supported by the Fairtrade Foundation. Read more about the range of products on their website and find the ones that best suit your shopping habits.

Join the Sustainable Food Working Group:

If you would like to find out more about the activities of the group, get in contact with Sustainable UCL's Sustainability Manager, Evan Landy.

Host an Event:

There are many activities and events you could host to raise awareness around Fairtrade. Visit the Fairtrade Foundation's website for inspiration and get in touch with the Sustainable UCL Team to let us know, or for further advice.

See what we did for Fairtrade Fortnight 2022