Reducing food waste at the University of Bristol

As a Green University, the University of Bristol has been taking many innovative steps to ensure we are consistently reducing the amount of food waste produced. Sustainability have inputted to the University's policies and procurement to ensure sustainable practices for catering and purchasing, surplus food donation, supporting food waste campaigns and ensuring that staff and students can dispose of food waste in halls, cafes and staff kitchens throughout the campus.

Reducing food waste at the University of Bristol

In the UK, we throw away 6.6 million tonnes of household food waste a year, almost three quarters of which could have been eaten. It is estimated that 30% of total greenhouse gas emissions come from food production; this is more than all the world’s commercial flights. It is vital that we waste less food, and that we responsibly dispose of food scraps. As a Green University, the University of Bristol has been taking many innovative steps to ensure we are consistently reducing the amount of food waste produced.

Supporting food banks

During the first lockdown, our catering teams sent fresh produce that could not be stored to a variety of charities, including Fareshare, the Trussell Trust and Bristol North Foodbank. Donation points were set up in halls of residence so that students could donate any food they would be leaving behind when travelling home. Food waste collected from the fresh-food boxes provided to students in isolation was also donated to charities across Bristol. So far, the University has donated 5279.5kg of food to the Trussell Trust Foodbank since April 2020. This has provided 276 families with a food parcel during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have donated a further 490kg of food to FareShare South West, creating 1100 meals for vulnerable people. The University continues to donate food, recently donating around 400 food boxes to East Bristol Children Centre Hub, and a further 1084 food boxes to Farehsare, who will then divide this among different local food banks. Donating food that would otherwise go to waste not only has a positive impact on the environment, but also on our local community.

Sustainable Catering

Incredibly, no food from catering at the University of Bristol has hit landfill since 2015, a very important environmental achievement! This is due to our catering staff continuously adapting and innovating to reduce food waste: all our chefs at the University are trained in food waste reduction. Suitable leftover foods are reused in other delicious meals. The catering department aims to use seasonally available ingredients as standard, as well as local produce, which in turn reduces the University’s carbon footprint.

Our catering teams also analyse waste patterns, logging all food waste created into a system, which then provides information to our chefs about which dishes are most popular, and which created the most waste. This allows for future alteration of ingredients in dishes and the amount of servings cooked in order to produce as little waste as possible. Any food that isn’t used is composted at a local company, GENeco, which turns food waste into energy to power local homes. Each dining room in halls has a Plate Up facts display to educate students of their impact on food waste and how to reduce it, so keep an eye out!

Food waste campaigns

The University of Bristol is currently a key partner in supporting the city of Bristol to become a Gold Sustainable Food City with the ‘Going for Gold’ campaign. We have made achievements in all areas, including reducing food waste, urban growing, eating better and improving food equality. Go and visit Bristol Bites Back Better to see how you can get involved in helping Bristol Go For Gold! The University supports other waste reduction campaigns, such as the WRAP Food Waste Action Week, Love Food Hate Waste and Too Good To Go.

The University of Bristol is dedicated to fighting food waste and reducing its carbon footprint. Follow the links above to see how you can get involved and how to reduce your own food waste.

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