We're proud to support #2023plasticfree

At Great Food at Leeds, we recognise our responsibility for ensuring that we carry out our food business in an environmentally and socially responsible way.

As a university caterer, we also recognise the influence and impact that we have on all aspects of our business, from suppliers, manufacturing, production and service. That’s why we continue to embed a sustainable approach into everything we do working with the University’s Sustainability service.

Our goal for the future is to become number one in the higher education sector for sustainability, reaching ambitious goals such as zero single-use plastics by 2023.

We are also fully committed to the University Climate pledge to reduce our carbon emissions by 35% by 2020 and be carbon zero by 2030.

Single-use Plastic Free 2023

Great Food at Leeds is making fantastic progress towards the 2023 target and aims to be plastic-free by the end of 2020. With this in mind, we wanted to let you know about a number of initiatives we are currently working on to try and reduce plastic waste.

Packaging plays a huge role in our business and we are currently auditing and changing the range of disposables we use, being sure to make the right choices looking at the full life cycle of the product. Wherever possible, we now use crockery or compostable cutlery and have made a plastic pledge to evidence our commitment to being single-use plastic-free by 2023.

Since 2017 we have…

  • Diverted 118,000 disposable cups from landfill since 2017 with 63,000 cups saved in the last 12 months alone
  • Introduced a further discount on all hot drinks bought with a reusable cup to 20p from 10p
  • The Refectory now serves all of its counter food in compostable and recyclable packing, with a “Bring your own container” system in operation
  • We’ve improved messaging waste around waste separation in outlets across campus
  • Reducing the amount of single-use plastic trays and lids from our delivered service sandwich offer, saving on average 500 plastic trays and lids per week, with this number set to increase by the end of the year as the recyclable cardboard box range expands to cover our entire delivery menu
  • Saved 53,000 single-use plastic waste items in 2019
  • Decreased the visibility of single plastic water bottles throughout our outlets and introduced water in cans
  • Partnered with the Refill app and introduced water fountains across campus

Sustainable catering

To support the health of our community we’re committed to continual improvement in the nutritional content of our meals and will provide a diverse offer that meets current health guidance. We’ll contribute to be a positive partner in society, sharing our skills and knowledge, supporting local initiatives and building the capacity of existing and future staff to deliver sustainable catering.

So far we have already undertaken a host of initiatives including:

  • Partnering with Too Good To Go, an innovative app and social enterprise that aims to put an end to food waste in the hospitality industry
  • Opened a new Green and Go counter at The Refectory and increased the number of plant-based meals and options across all The Refectory counters to encourage customers to eat more plant-based and plant-focused meals
  • Increased the volume of plant-based options in our delivered catering, with 70% of the menu being either vegan or vegetarian
  • Continued to support Fairtrade products and ethically sourced ingredients
  • Worked with local suppliers to reduce waste including our Fruit and Veg supplier H&P Fine Foods on a solution that has enabled the re-use of boxes that are used in their deliveries to us
  • Made sustainable fish swaps including replacing cod with pollock in The Refectory with over 15,000 pieces of cod per year replaced

Looking ahead

In the next 12 months, we will…

  • Continue to monitor and reduce the use of single-use items across our catering operations to ensure we are single-use plastic-free by 2023
  • Continue to work in collaboration with Food Science and Nutrition to increase the availability of healthier food and improve the nutritional content
  • Reduce the overall meat content across our meals and increase the amount of meat-free/vegan meals available
  • Increase our offer of locally and seasonally produced food
  • Reduce food waste and increase the use of the “Too Good to Go” app
  • Working with the University Sustainability Team and procurement to ensure our catering outlets will have accessible and easy to use recycling infrastructure that leads to improved recycling