Blog Post

Reducing food waste at the University of Reading

The University of Reading puts sustainability at the heart of everything we do, it is a cornerstone of our strategic vision. A key part of sustainability is to reduce the amount of waste generated across all streams and our commitment to reducing food waste is led by our Hospitality and Catering Teams. The University has adopted the Sustainable Food Policy And Framework, which outlines all the actions that have been completed in this area and those in progress. This policy includes many areas which are relevant to reducing food waste and those which are most relevant are highlighted below:

• The University introduced the Choose to Reuse Meal Box in September 2018, which allows customers to opt to use a reusable takeaway box that can be returned for washing to a number of outlets, where a clean one is handed out.
• Our Greenlands site uses an in vessel composter to turn waste food to compost for use around the grounds.
• Up to 17 students are fed free of charge through our Eating Plan system allowing us to use food that would go to waste, to be used for a better purpose.
• Our menus reflect seasonality running on a 52 week cycle with an emphasis on produce (plant-forward) from the British Isles and all fresh, raw meat being sourced from the UK. Where items come from abroad, we seek to source from the closest, lowest-carbon source, e.g. Spanish Orange Juice rather than South Africa, Soya from the US and Canada rather than Brazil or UK Grown Sugar rather than the Caribbean.
• The University has committed to the Menus of Change initiative which has 24 principles around healthy and sustainable menus. In terms of food waste, of note are: an emphasis on transparency around sourcing, designing menus which use local and seasonal produce to reduce waste and moderating portion sizes to reduce food waste.The University is working towards:
• Growing of fruit, herbs and vegetables on campus in a financially sustainable manner.
• Increasing the amount of food coming from our own farms.
• Sourcing milk from University Farms.
• Investigating further sources of local food.
• Increase the use of seasonal food.
• Implementing the WRAP Food Waste Road Map. This roadmap focuses on the following areas: implement a target for food waste reduction, adopt the UK template to measure food surplus and waste, report on food waste and provide information on progress made, and act to reduce food waste in our own operations, work in partnership with suppliers to reduce their waste and help to reduce consumer food waste.

Our Sustainable Food Policy and Framework is reviewed annually, with the next update due in June 2022. This will provide further information about the progress we are making towards reducing food waste across our operations.


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