Reducing our environmental impact

How we're helping the planet by promoting sustainable diets and avoiding food waste and plastics

Over 30% of greenhouse gas emissions come from the food system, and a third of the food produced globally goes to waste (Sustain). We’re reducing our environmental impact by changing the way we produce and consume food on campus by:

  1. Encouraging planet-friendly diets
  2. Eliminating single-use plastics
  3. Reducing food waste
  4. Using local, seasonal produce
  5. Setting high standards

1. Encouraging planet friendly diets

We’re promoting sustainable diets on campus to help:

  • Tackle climate change and reduce our impact on the natural environment
  • Promote healthy eating and wellbeing
  • Uphold high standards in animal welfare

We’re one of the top 10 most vegan friendly universities in the UK – 40% of the food on our menus is plant-based. Meat and dairy-free meal options are always available at our catering outlets.

We were one of the first universities to join the Kale Yeah! loyalty scheme developed by Friends of the Earth to combat climate change. Collect a stamp each time you choose a veggie or vegan meal at campus cafes and once you’ve collected six stamps, you’ll receive a free meal.

As a Kale Yeah! Kitchen, we recognise the impact on both the climate emergency and nature crisis of over-consumption of meat, fish and dairy products. We're addressing this by rebalancing our menus and serving more healthy, plant-based options. We source animal products from farms with high welfare and strong environmental standards as much as possible.

Many teams across the University ensure that catering at their events is 100% vegan.

People reaching for plates of food surrounded by a table busy with dishes of food

Meat and dairy production accounts for nearly 15% of climate-changing emissions worldwide.

By participating in Kale Yeah!, we’re helping to reduce consumption of meat and dairy products and lessen our carbon footprint.

2. Eliminating single use plastics

We’re aiming for all Food on Campus outlets to be free of single-use plastics. We’re reducing our reliance on plastics in the following ways:

  • ‌Using recyclable glass milk bottles and large milk dispensers in University catering and coffee shops to save over 13,000 milk sachets a year
  • Using bamboo cutlery to save between 10,000 and 15,000 pieces of plastic cutlery a year
  • Using eco-friendly corn starch cups to save nearly 60,000 plastic cups a year
  • Using sugar cane platters and plates
  • Replacing plastic straws with biodegradable wheat straws
  • Offering customers discounts if they use their own cups when buying hot drinks
  • Introducing refillable, biodegradable bottles or canned water in our catering outlets
Reusable coffee cups

Bring your own mug

We encourage staff and students to help us to reduce waste. We offer 20p off a cup of tea, coffee or hot chocolate when you use your own cup at one of our catering outlets. We also now charge customers who want a coffee cup lid as an additional step to reduce waste. And our lids are made of biofibres, so if you do buy one, it’s compostable. 

When booking catering for meetings, our staff can choose a 'cups free' option, reducing costs to both the customer and the environment.

Reusable water bottles placed in a line

Plastic free water bottles

Our campus cafes stock bottleup reusable water bottles made from renewable sugar cane. The bottles are dishwasher safe and can be used thousands of times. 

Ask for your bottle to be refilled with water at any of our catering outlets.

We also stock cans of Life Water, which funds clean water projects across the globe to help alleviate the world water crisis.

3. Reducing food waste

Our food waste is currently less than 2%.

We’re part of the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) and our catering team are trained through their Guardians of Grub initiative. Our food waste is weighed in categories (peelings, spoil and plate waste) and recorded as part of our return to WRAP. It’s then worked out as a fraction of food production to give us a food waste percentage. 

We donate leftover food to Portsmouth Food Cycle, who serve free hot meals to members of the local community. Food recycling bins are available around campus and are disposed of by approved contractors.

We also circulate products in our catering outlets across campus so they’re purchased and consumed before they go out of date.

Students packing food while volunteering

4. Using local, seasonal produce

We're part of the Public Sector Procurement of Local Food Project – a scheme that increases the number of local farmers and producers supplying the public sector. This encourages diversity and local business growth and reduces delivery frequency, lowering carbon emissions.

We’re also a member of Hampshire Fare. By working with local suppliers we always have fresh, seasonal food available across the university. We can be sure of where our food comes from, minimise food miles and support our local economy. 

Bowl of colourful salad

5. Setting high standards

We consider the social and environmental impact of our product selection. We set high standards for ourselves and our suppliers to encourage sustainable food production.

Our House Rules

  • We don't waste food
  • All dairy produce is organic
  • We always have, and always will, use free range eggs and meat
  • We work with local, smaller suppliers to reduce our carbon footprint
  • We only use sustainable fish certified by the Marine Stewardship Council
  • We've adopted the Better Chicken Commitment for all chicken in our entire supply chain
  • Staff and students are encouraged to use reusable drinks containers when ordering hot drinks or water
  • Our coffee is triple certified — it's organic, Fairtrade and certified by the Rainforest Alliance

Environmental catering awards

We’ve received several awards for our work to reduce the environmental impact of our catering. 

Our awards include:

The Catering Mark is independent endorsement that we are improving the food we serve. We are using fresh ingredients which are free from trans fats, harmful additives, GM and better for animal welfare. Caterers are audited to ensure they meet high standards of provenance. This award reassures customers that meals are freshly prepared using sustainable and seasonal ingredients.

This independent sustainability-rating system recognises restaurants as one, two or three star sustainability champions depending on how they rate against a wide range of criteria.

We’re the only university in the UK to hold four Good Farm Animal Welfare Awards for the sole use of free range chickens and eggs, organic dairy products and welfare pigs.