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Sustainable Food & Drink Policy
As outlined in the College Sustainability Strategy 2021-26, Catering will play a central role in the transition of our campuses to more sustainable spaces. To guide this, we have developed a forward-thinking, innovative Sustainable Food & Drink Policy, which will place sustainability at the core of the decisions we make on the food and drink we serve.
The policy, led by the College’s in-house catering team, Taste Imperial, will apply to all outlets, restaurants, bars and stores on-campus. It will guide the menus we develop, how we procure our food and equipment and how we increase awareness on how what we eat impacts the environment. It includes commitments to:
- Phase out beef products from College menus by 30% per year, ultimately removing them entirely by 2025-26.
- Make all non-dairy milks no extra charge within 2022-23.
- Only serve fish that is Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Certified.
- Prioritise local, seasonal produce across-the-board.
- Introduce a revised reusable cup scheme to reduce single-use cups across campus.
- Increase the educational materials available in outlets on sustainable food and drink choices.
- Develop community spaces to support student and staff involvement in sustainable food projects.
The Policy is now available to read: Sustainable Food and Drink Policy (Final)
Learn more about its development via the College's news site here
The Sustainable Food & Drink Policy has been informed by consistent consultation with our students and staff. We have held focus groups with students and staff and have invited the feedback of our world-leading experts in the area of sustainability to ensure we are on the right track.
Why is the Policy important?
We're reducing our beef.
The use of cows, pigs and other animals for food, as well as livestock feed, is responsible for 57% of all food production emissions, and beef alone accounts for a quarter of emissions produced by raising and growing food. The difference in emissions between meat and plant production is stark – to produce 1kg of wheat, 2.5kg of greenhouse gases are emitted. A single kilo of beef, meanwhile, creates 70kg of emissions (Guardian 2021).
This is why we're committed to reducing the amount of beef we serve by 35% per year and eliminating it entirely from our menus by 2026.
We're only serving sustainable fish.
It is estimated that 34.2% of all marine fish stocks are fished beyond biological sustainable limits, a threefold increase since monitoring started in 1974 (FAO 2021). Overexploitation not only causes negative ecological consequences, but it also reduces fish production, which leads to negative social and economic consequences.
We are committed to only serving fish that is Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Certified - fishery that follows a set of requirements for sustainable fishing. They are independently assessed on its impacts to wild fish populations and the ecosystems they're part of.
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We're serving non-dairy milks for free.
Cow’s milk has significantly higher impacts than the plant-based alternatives. It causes around three times as much greenhouse gas emissions; uses around ten times as much land; two to twenty times as much freshwater; and creates much higher levels of eutrophication (Our World in Data 2022).
Oat and Soya milk use significantly less water to produce and emit less CO2 to transport vs. dairy. That’s why we’re making all dairy alternatives free across campus by the end of 2022-23.
We're serving local, seasonal fruit.
Food miles are the distance a certain food has to travel from its point of origin to its point of destination. Seasonal produce reduces the number of ‘food miles’ and decreases the associated CO2 emissions.
We aim to stock local, seasonal fruit in preference over non-seasonal fruit.
What we've done in the past
Although the Sustainable Food & Drink Policy marks a significant expansion of our sustainability ambitions, it also a continuation of what has been journey of improvement. Here are some examples of initiatives that we have led on before 2022.
What we've done in the past
In 2018 we replaced single-use plastic cutlery with premium wooden cutlery, certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. Wooden cutlery can be reused and is more easy to recycle.
Removal of single-use water cups
In 2019, we partnered with Greening Imperial to remove all single-use plastic cups from water stations, thereby saving up to 850,000 cups from going to landfill each year.
To coincide with the launch of Plantworks in 2019, we partnered with Imperial alumnus Tina Chen to sell her MyTEA range of wholesome vegan tea lattes, utilising sustainable and upcycled packaging.