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Sustainable Food Commitment Summary

A summary of what has already been achieved and what we are currently focusing on as part of the Sustainable Food Commitment.

Building on the decade-long work of Hospitality, Retail, Events and Residence Life to reduce the environmental impact of food provision on campus, the Sustainable Food Commitment refocuses efforts on those activities with the largest climate impacts.

The Sustainable Food Commitment (SFC) takes an evidence-based approach, moving the focus to the five largest food-related contributors to climate change.

A SFC detailed action plan has been created and we are working towards implementing its objectives and targets, however, here is a summary on what has already been achieved and what we are currently focusing on.

Using more seasonal food and locally produced food when it has a lower carbon impact.

Sometimes it is more efficient to import food when in season elsewhere, instead of using large quantities of energy to grow it locally. We understand it cannot be one rule for every supplier or food item. We will consider the produce we use, and if it is more efficient to ship from outside the local area to reduce the quantity of energy used, we may decide to use supplier further away. For example, during winter it is less carbon intensive to import tomatoes from Spain instead of growing them in the UK.  

  • Produce for catering outlets is sourced from Arthur David, a local supplier in the Southwest.

  • In Retail, Fresh is committed to the Co-op’s National Farmers Union Fruit and Vegetable Pledge which includes a commitment to increasing the amount of British fresh produce available to customers.

Already achieved

  • All milk in our hospitality outlets is procured from a local dairy in the Chew Valley, just 16 miles away.
  • Our hospitality outlets use a calendar of seasonal produce, to make sure they use vegetables that are in season where possible.
  • The Market now has a seasonal produce section.
  • We have achieved the criteria for The Good Egg award, as all of the eggs we use in our hospitality outlets are now free range.
  • Our meat supplier is now the locally based John Sheppard Butchers in Bristol.

What are we working towards?

  • Increasing our proportion of seasonal menu offerings

Procuring fish caught using sustainable methods from sustainable stocks

Hospitality outlets will only source fish from species identified by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) with higher sustainability ratings.  

We are currently exploring improving the minimum sustainability standards for unprocessed and processed fish. The aim is to have all fish feature on the MCS certified fish to eat list. The category ratings will be confirmed once baseline data has been obtained. A small number of fresh fish is procured for Hospitality outlets; therefore, we intend to turn our attention to pre-packed products where the majority ingredient is fish.

Already achevied

  • All fish in our hospitality outlets is now Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified, except tuna steaks.

What are we working towards?

  • Investigating an alternative line for tuna steaks.

Reducing food waste

Around one third of food in the world is wasted every year, mostly at the end of the supply chain. This is often driven by excessive portion sizes, and wasteful sales practices.  

Already in place

  • A ‘Munch Box’ scheme is available at certain outlets to sell off surplus food at a discount. At the end of meal services, students and staff can bring their own containers to fill with surplus food.

  • Coffee grounds are composted on site and then get used on the University grounds as a soil enricher.

  • We run an end of academic year Leave No Trace campaign to divert waste to give to students and charities. This includes a large amount of tinned and packed food.

  • Waste oil from Hospitality outlets is collected and converted into biodiesel or disposed of in an environmentally friendly way.

  • Food donation trollies are in place at sites across campus and in the city for students to leave left over tinned and packeted food at the end of term. This food is given to a local charity to distribute to Bath families in need.

  • Leftover food from The Market and Fresh can be purchased through the Too Good to Good mobile app at a discounted price.

  • We have introduced our community larder outside the exit of Fresh. Any short-dated food from Fresh and pre-packed items from hospitality are placed in here when available, which can be collected for free.

  • The Food Direct catering service now leaves paper bags with food orders, to encourage people to take away any surplus food. An information card is provided to explain to guests what the bags are for and how it links to our sustainable objectives.

  • The University’s food waste recycling provision covers all University student residences and hospitality outlets. Where food waste does occur, this food waste goes to an anaerobic digestion plant to generate renewable electricity and produce nutrient rich bio-fertiliser.

  • A trial of the Wrap Guardians of the Grub food waste initiative in Fountain Canteen.

What are we working towards?

  • Trialling food waste bins located front of house in lime tree, Fountain Canteen and Plug with the intention of increasing the number of food waste bins accessible to the public within campus outlets.

  • Possibly rolling out the Guardians of the Grub food waste scheme across all hospitality outlets.

Minimising packaging

Packaging plays an important role in protecting food as it moves through the supply chain, but it also has negative environmental impacts. We will only use packaging where it is needed, focusing first on minimising packaging, and then prioritising plastic reduction. 

Procurement communicates with suppliers to ensure they are aware of our sustainable objectives, e.g. buying milk pergals rather than bottles and sandwiches with compostable packaging. Tendering requirements include questions on how plastic (including black plastic) is managed and reduced in the supply chain and how products are packaged for delivery.

Already achieved

  • 14.75 tonnes of cutlery, food, crockery, glassware, plastics and other materials recycled, instead of thrown away through the ‘Leave no Trace’ scheme since 2018.

  • Replacement of all plastic straws with biodegradable or paper ones.

  • Replacement of all single use plastic cutlery with single use wooden cutlery.

  • Removal of all plastic cups by water fountains in hospitality outlets.

  • Removal of all disposable cups next to coffee machines.

  • Creation of two zero waste refill stations in Retail, in Fresh and The Market, whereby students, staff and visitors to campus can purchase the required quantity of product without the plastic packaging.

  • Added loose fruit and vegetables into The Market

  • Introducing compostable carriers (removing plastic bags including bag for life)

  • Introduced sandwich suppliers with compostable packaging

  • Water refill stations are available at all University of Bath catering outlets (except 4W). Our locations are included on the Refill app.

  • Expanding our reusable cup scheme, The Exchange, to all catering outlets throughout campus including the SU. The scheme has also been expanded to include cold drinks.

What are we working towards?

  • Implementing refillable water bottle stations or sinks in all seated catering outlets.

  • Where carbon impacts are equal, give preference to products which are manufactured, used, and disposed of in an environmentally friendly way.

  • Reducing the amount of disposable food containers by launching a scheme like The Exchange but for food. By introducing a takeaway food container scheme, we will reduce carbon footprint by diverting the number of food disposals going to landfill.

Reducing meat and in particular ruminant meat consumption

Reducing meat and in particular ruminant meat consumption is by far the single largest action we can take to reduce our carbon footprint from food.  Some of the recent action that has been taken includes:

  • October 21, Hospitality opened a new catering outlet dedicated to serving vegetarian and vegan food called Parade. Parade, located in the centre of campus serves vegetarian and vegan brunch, waffles, salads, deli items and salads.

  • Hospitality’s fresh and frozen meat purchasing data, from September to June 2018-19 (pre-pandemic) compared to September to June 2021-2022 demonstrated that procurement of meat has decreased, and the reduction of ruminant meat has been significant. The purchasing of beef dropped by 96% and lamb by 99% whilst all other meats were reduced significantly too.

Already achieved

  • Beef and lamb has been removed from our barbecue menus on open days.
  • Our department ran sustainable cooking sessions for new students in the first term of 2022. 272 students attended 17 cooking classes, the majority of which were based on how to cook vegetarian and vegan dishes.

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