Sustainable UCL


Sustainable Food

We want to provide a healthy food offer that’s good for our staff and students and the planet; whether it’s in our catered accommodation, our campus cafes, bars and restaurants or at our events.

Our Healthy and food policy ensures that the University meets high environmental and socially responsible standards for the food offered through its catering partners, and encourages and promotes healthy eating amongst students and staff.

Healthy & Sustainable Food Policy
Our 2020/2021 commitments:

  • Provide a disposable free hospitality service
  • Offer as many vegan and vegetarian options as meat options in our outlets
  • Move to vegetarian only meetings and events with varied and high quality choices
  • Ensure all tea, coffee, bananas, chocolate (confectionary, coco powder, drinking chocolate) and sugar are Fairtrade certified.
  • Achieve Fairtrade University Accreditation.
  • Showcase the carbon footprint of food options to consumers
  • Achieve 1 star in the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) Food Made Good award, across all outlets by 2020 and 2 star by 2021.

What we already do

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
  • The refectory has a Waste O2 biodigetser which can digest up to 180 Kg of kitchen scraps into waste water over a 24-hour period.
  • All used coffee grounds at UCL are collected by Bio-bean, who process it into biofuel.
Powered by Plants
  • Actively reduce meat content in our meals support sustainable food consumption.
  • UCL hosted the launch of WWF Future 50, and UCL menus are set to feature 50 most sustainable food items.
  • List vegetarian food first on menus above meat-based choices.
  • Provide at least one vegan option within hospitality, catering and accommodation offers
  • Aim for 50% of all meals sold to be vegan or vegetarian and for UCL to be rated as a top 20 vegan university by PETA.
  • Not serve any products on the red list of  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 Aspretto 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 KitKat (Cocoa Plan Fairtrade).
  • Rice is sourced from Rice Inc, a social enterprise set up by UCL Alumni that tackle food insecurity by empowering smallholder farmers in Southeast Asia.
  • 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.

Healthy and Sustainable Food Policy

Our catering suppliers are legally obliged to follow UCL's food policy. This ensures that UCL's food is both healthy and environmentally and socially responsible.

See below some of UCL’s sustainable food initiatives



UCL and UCLU commit to using, selling and promoting Fairtrade products through all of our outlets and relevant activities.

Turning coffee waste into fuel

Turning coffee waste into fuel

UCL has partnered with alumni company bio-bean to reduce our coffee waste and to further research in the area.

Ditch the Disposable teaser

Ditch the Disposable

To save 1 million single-use cups going to waste every year at UCL, disposable cups are now priced at 15p.

Community garden at MMSL

Community Food Growing

Get involved with some of our food growing projects.

Eco Take Out Scheme

Water fountains

Find out the locations of UCL's water fountains with this map.

Green Bottle Tags

Reusable glass bottle scheme

Reusing one bottle saves 1.3 tonnes of CO2 - that's equivalent of planting 20 trees! Find out about our reusable bottle scheme.


Sustainable catering guide

From ditching disposables to ordering plant-based catering, find out how to order sustainable catering with this guide.

UCL Powered by Plants

UCL: Powered by Plants

Find out about UCL's campaign to make all events and meetings 100% vegetarian.

Too Good To Go

Too Good to Go

Save money and prevent waste at UCL by using 'Too Good to Go' app.

For more details see our Healthy & Sustainable Food Policy

Our catering suppliers are legally obliged to follow this policy. This ensures that UCL's food is both healthy and environmentally and socially responsible. We review the policy annually through the Environmental Sustainability Steering Group. You can view last year's report here.