Sustainable catering at LSE

Healthy and ethical food that doesn't cost the earth

We work hard to reduce the environmental impacts of our catering services, as part of creating a #SustainableLSE. On this page you will find a summary of our approach and initiatives. 

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Key initiatives

Aims and delivery

Our aims

  • Vegetarian and vegan
    Actively promote the uptake of vegetarian and vegan options
  • Food
    Provide healthy, sustainable, and ethical food to our customers
  • Community engagement
    Work in close collaboration with the LSE community
  • Waste and resources
    Minimise waste in particular food waste and increase recycling
  • Procurement and transport
    Reduce the environmental impacts of our supply chain
  • Energy and water
    Minimise energy and water consumption across our operations

Our ethos and approach

As university caterers we know we have a significant role to play in the food chain both as procurers and providers of food. We recognise our responsibility to provide healthy and sustainable food to our customers. We will promote healthy and sustainable practices in all aspects of our food sourcing, production and service whilst taking account of our diverse, international and financially challenged customer base.

We ensure ongoing improvement by periodically reviewing sustainability targets, measuring performance against them, and reporting on this via the Catering Sustainability Working Group which reports to the Sustainability Operations Group

Our certifications

 


Our sustainable catering practices and initatives

We take active action to deliver our aims. To learn more, select a topic below:

Vegetarian and vegan

Aim: Actively promote the uptake of vegetarian and vegan options

  • We have introduced carbon impact labels on the menus in our catering outlets and catered halls of residence. Carbon impact labels help to raise awareness of the carbon impact of different food types and encourage positive choices. Our labels are based on data from the World Resources Institute. Find out more about the Carbon impact labels [PDF].
  • To encourage the uptake of plant-based dishes, we offer buy 9 get 1 free to LSE Food Club members. 
  • We offer vegetarian and vegan alternatives in all of our catering outlets and actively promote the value in both sustainability and health of a vegetarian diet. We actively support Vegetarian Week and run healthy eating campaigns throughout the academic year. In October 2019 PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) named us as one of the top 20 universities for vegan food provision.
  • In academic year 2018/19 the proportion of meat dishes served by LSE Catering reduced by almost half from 65% to 37% and at the same time vegetarian and vegan dishes increased from 14% to 45% (6,916 to 61,147). Vegan and vegetarian dishes are placed first on our service counters in all main campus and halls restaurant to help nudge our customer behavior. We highlight to customers the plant-based hospitality menu items and ask them to consider the environment when making their food choices.
  • We hold regular Feel Good Food Days where 70% of the menu is suitable for vegetarians and reduce the meat in the other dishes that are served, replacing where necessary with pulses, beans and other sources of protein that are not of animal origin. We will strive to increase healthy and vegetarian options year on year. We hold regular awareness campaigns to promote a vegetarian lifestyle for environmental and health considerations, and work with Student Societies to promote these events.
  • We offer daily vegan menu choices at all the main restaurants on main campus and in the four catered halls. 
  • We opened the Shaw Café in November 2018 which serves vegan and some vegetarian foods, plant based milks and homemade salads. The Shaw Café was awarded the Bronze Food for Life award in 2020 and in October 2019 the Shaw team were shortlisted for a special award by Food for Life.

Food

Aim: Provide healthy, sustainable, and ethical food to our customers

Fruit and vegetable

  • We engage with suppliers to ensure that where seasonal produce is available from the local area, that is our preferred choice. One vegetable supplier is based in New Spitalfields Market and their aim when possible is to buy locally grown and UK produce. We work with a Kent based supplier who sources local produce from farms in his area. Visits to farms have been arranged by our suppliers to provide us with an opportunity to meet the famers and see how our food is being produced
  • Menus in our restaurants are changed on a daily basis so that we can offer seasonable produce where possible.
  • We ensure hospitality dinner menus have seasonable produce as a matter of course.
  • We encourage healthy eating in all LSE Catering restaurants by providing salad bars with daily freshly prepared ingredients.
  • We provide a selection of fresh fruit in all Catering units. Seasonal fruit will be stocked in preference to out of season fruit.

Fish

  • We are signatories to support Sustain's Sustainable Fish City (SFC) - a campaign working to transform the way our oceans are fished by buying sustainable fish www.sustainweb.org/sustainablefishcity/london. We only use and promote fish that are rated "1, 2 or 3" on the Marine Conservation Society's (MCS) Good Fish Guide. We will act promptly to remove any fish that are added to the list due to a change in the sustainability of the item.
  • We will monitor our suppliers to ensure they are certified Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) approved and where possible we will use MSC certified fish.
  • We will not use tinned tuna where the tuna has been caught using purse seine nets with Fish Aggregation Devices (FADS). From 2010 our preference for tinned tuna has been pole and line caught or MSC certified. Halls catering offer only 'Fairer Fish' tuna which has high environmental credentials.

Meet and dairy

  • We are committed to ensuring we will increase higher welfare meat and dairy, where possible using Red Tractor Assured produce.
  • All meat served in halls and on main campus is Red Tractor and since May 2016 our halal chicken meat is Red Tractor standard across all units. All our hospitality dinners use 100% free range chicken.
  • Our milk is certified Red Tractor Assured or equivalent. 

Eggs

  • We have ensured since 2010 that all whole/liquid/dried eggs purchased in all our LSE Catering units are 100 per cent from a free-range production system and any products purchased containing egg state that the eggs are from a free-range production system.
  • Since 2017, the four catered halls only use organic free-range eggs that are sourced from a local farm. The organic egg producer used for the catered halls was voted 2019 Poultry Farmer of the Year.

Cooking oil

  • We will ensure that 100 per cent of the oil used in LSE Catering is vegetable, rapeseed oil or olive oil. No trans fats will be used.
  • We will continue to ensure that all used cooking oil be collected by a company who turn it into bio-diesel.

Fairtrade

  • All our catering outlets serve tea, coffee and sugar that is ethically traded, Fairtrade refreshments are served at all conferences, meetings and events. Bananas on sale in all catering outlets are 100% Fairtrade.
  • We serve triple accredited (Fairtrade, Organic and Rainforest Alliance) coffee in the Garrick, 4th Floor Cafe Bar, Bean Counter, Cafe 54, Mezzanine Cafes. Shaw Café, Beveridge Cafe, LSE Shop and Fawcett Cafe. (The Rainforest alliance works to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainability livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business practices and consumer behaviour).
  • We have introduced direct trade coffee from Union Coffee in the Shaw Café which has direct links with its suppliers across the globe and holds high ethical trading values. 
  • We promote Fairtrade products and actively support Fairtrade Fortnight in all catering units and provide year round information which supports Fairtrade initiatives.
  • We monitor the percentage of sales that are Fairtrade and report figures via the Catering Environmental Working Group, at a minimum we ensure 10 per cent are Fairtrade.

Community engagement

Aim: Work in close collaboration with the LSE community

Communication, events, and promotions

  • Actively promote the benefits of a diet that is healthy, and environmentally and socially sustainable, by enhancing customer awareness through guidance, product information and awareness campaigns.
  • We communicate our environmental and food policy and specific information regarding sustainability initiatives of our food to our service users, visitors and staff via the staff and student newsletters, flyers, notice-boards, website and street stalls and formally communicate our progress via the Catering Services User Group (CSUG) and Catering Environmental Meeting. We have Twitter and Facebook accounts where we post details and photos to highlight our sustainability achievements, collaboration with students and #SustainableLSE.
  • Money from the LSE Sustainable Projects Fund helped fund a student investigative trip around the Scottish Coast. It has also enabled the installation of an 'observation hive' to allow viewing of the beehives on the roof of Counaught House. This allows students and staff to visit without disturbing the bees. 
  • We will raise awareness of sustainable foods by promotions and events including Feel Good Food Days, supporting the Student Union Green Week, Veganary, Fairtrade Fortnight, Vegetarian Week. We actively support student, environment and sustainability team's and HR/Wellbeing's healthy and sustainable initiatives at a minimum 15 days per year.
  • We enhance staff, customer and supplier awareness of relevant environmental and social effects of a sustainable diet via promotional guidance, product information and awareness campaigns. We work with various external bodies to promote sustainable objectives; these include but are not limited to, The Humane Society, The Vegan and Vegetarian Society, Food For Life, Soil Association and Sustainable Restaurants Association.
  • We will display notices at point of sale of bottled water stating "As part of our Environmental Policy, LSE wishes to discourage bottled water sales and encourage use of tap-water fountains and refillable water bottles. A levy of 25p per bottle purchased will be put towards an LSE environmental improvement project".

Strategic reporting and sustainability staff training

  • Sustainability is a standard item on agendas for the Catering Services User Group (CSUG) and management meetings. A termly Catering Environmental Working Group is held with students, senior catering staff and members of the LSE Sustainability team, reporting back on the Catering Progress Tracker [PDF].
  • We work with the LSE Sustainability team to follow best practice and ensure that our local aims are aligned to the university strategic aims. We include environmental sustainability issues on all team meeting agendas.
  • Build responsability for sustainable issues into the roles of all catering staff and support this with appropriate training.
  • We seek appropriate training for all levels of staff to encourage awareness of sustainable and healthy eating issues. 
  • We have sustainability information noticeboards in all our units to inform staff and customers of environmental and sustainability matters.
  • We are currently training our staff to implement Winnow food waste reduction technology systems in our halls of residence.

Certifications and external benchmarking

  • We participate each year in the NUS SOS Green Impact Scheme, and have achieved 3 Gold Awards, 1 Silver and a Special Award for Environmental Improvement. In 2019/20 we achieved a Committed Contributor Award.
  • In 2018 the three main restaurants and four catered halls achieved a  Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) three star rating.
  • Our halls catering also hold the Silver Food for Life Award from the Soil Association. The LSE and Shaw Café both hold a Bronze award.
  • We recognise our responsibility as an employer by educating catering staff in food sustainability. Staff will be aware of the various certification systems and their relevance for food production and food products that we use.

Waste and resources

Aim: Minimise waste in particular food waste and increase recycling.

Food waste

  • We have food waste collections on a daily basis and send to a local unit for turning into usable compost or to an anaerobic digestion (AD) plant. We monitor this monthly, from daily till waste data, to see if there are any patterns to help us to reduce our waste and report via the Catering Sustainability Working Group. Read more at LSE Food waste [PDF].
  • We monitor leftover packaged food items, and donate them if viable to initiatives such as LSESU Food Cycle and Save Food. Since 2018/19 we have donated wrapped food items to LSESU Food Cycle for distributing to people in need. 
  • We now offer via our Food Club app a 50 per cent discount sandwiches and wraps every Friday across campus to reduce food waste.
  • In 2020 we introduced the Too Good To Go Food App to help reduce food wastage. 

Disposables (cups, cutlery...)

  • In September 2020 we introduced a 25p levy on single use coffee cups to encourage the use of the KeepCups by behavioral change.
  • We encourage the use of KeepCups by stocking them in the outlets and giving the first drink free with the initial sale of the cup in order tor educe the amount of disposable cup waste and will report the amount of KeepCups sold per month to the Catering Environmental Working Group. 
  • We monitor the amount of plastic saved by customers using a reusable cup in our outlets monthly.
  • We encourage use of refillable water bottles. Subsidised cold-water bottles are stocked and promoted for customer use in our units. 
  • We now provide re-usable plastic drinking cups in our outlets for hospitality functions to save on single use plastic water cups.
  • We encourage customers to use crockery instead of disposables and provide reusable/recyclable/biodegradable products instead of polystyrene.
  • We discourage take-away by providing comfortable seating in all our facilities and provide crockery wherever dishwashing facilities are available.
  • We no longeer use plastic straws and have replaced them with paper straws in all our outlets. Any takeaway cutlery provided is wooden.

Bottled water

  • We charge a levy of 25p on all bottles of water purchased which supports Catering sustainability initiatives and the LSE Sustainable Projects Fund.
  • We promote the use of re-usable water bottles to reduce the dependence on bottled mineral water and have held campaigns to promote their use.
  • We will actively support students and staff drinking tap water and positively encourage the use of drinking fountains.
  • The main campus now has 67 drinking water fountains, designed for filling both cups and bottles. To see where they are visit: Water fountains - LSE Facilities Guide 
  • We offer tap water in jugs, or purified still, and sparkling tap water bottled on site using re-usable glass bottles in all our serviced hospitality. We no longeer offer mineral water in plastic bottles for hospitalty events.
  • We have introduced water from companies that are actively involved in delivering water projects to companies in the developing world.

Waste and recycling

  • We actively look at ways to reduce the amount of waste material we generate by engaging with our suppliers regarding packaging.
  • We will provide facilities for recycling and ensure that dry waste (e.g. cardboard, paper, metal) is kept separate from wet waste (e.g. food).
  • Where there is unavoidable waste that we are unable to reuse we will provide and encourage use of facilities for recycling and ensure that dry waste (e.g. cardboard, paper, metal) is kept separate from wet waste e.g.food).
  • We have introduced cardboard sandwich platter boxes which have replaced plastic platters.
  • We re-home used plastic food containers by giving them away free to staff and students for future use as storage containers, etc. 

Procurement and transport

Aim: Reduce the environmental impacts of our supply chain

Procurement

  • We make procurement decisions that take into account social and environmental factors whilst achieving best value for money, by selecting and engaging with suppliers - both directly and via our purchasing partners The University Caterers Organisation (TUCO).
  • We are active members of TUCO and use TUCO Purchasing Framework Agreements. Through this suppliers are nominated and regulated, and sustainability issues are embedded into tendering specifications, see: TUCO sustainable procurement.  
  • Individual catering contracts procured will be expected to comply with the LSE's Environmental, sustainable and healthy food policy and targets or standards set by the Soil Association or the Sustainable Restaurant Association.
  • TUCO commissioned a report on the April 2019 TUCO sustainable palm oil supply chain and became an Assciate of the Round table on Responsible Palm Oil (RSPO).
  • We will liaise with our suppliers to gain information regarding provenance, nutrition and welfare of their products to assist us in making more informed choice and make our supply chain aware of our increasing desire to source ethically and sustainable products.
  • We engage with smaller local niche suppliers, such as our greengrocer, who sources seasonal local produce.
  • Our dairy supplier sources their milk from farms from the home counties.

Cleaning products

  • We endeavour to use products, equipment and methods that have minimum environmental impact whilst ensuring a safe, clean environment.
  • We do not use cleaning products that are tested on animals.
  • We do not use bleach products.

Transport

  • We take the environmental impact of supplier transportation into consideration when procuring goods and services. West Horsley, who supply us, have FORS accreditation and use Eco-Hybrid vehicles.
  • We use local suppliers whenever feasible to reduce our carbon footprint. Where non local suppliers are used, we will keep deliveries as infrequent as practical and encourage suppliers to use modern fuel efficient, hybrid or electric vehicles.
  • We manually transport goods and services within our site.
  • We require staff to use public transport when on business travel.
  • The university offers a cycle purchasing scheme (Cyclescheme) and season ticket loan scheme to encourage staff to travel to work.

Energy and water

Aim: Minimise energy and water consumption across our operations

  • We will label the main hot dishes in the restaurants with a Carbon Impact traffic light labelling system to raise awareness of the carbon impact of different food types in the dishes and encourage increased uptake in low carbon options.
  • We save energy and water through efficient administration, equipment selection, usage and disposal, food storage, preparation, and cooking.
  • We review the methods we use in our preparation, cooking and storage to ensure they are the most efficient and effective means to reduce energy whilst maintaining quality and freshness.
  • We turn off equipment, heating, lighting and water when not needed and use auto-timers where possible.
  • We regularly service equipment to increase the energy efficiency of appliances.
  • We reuse equipment where practical to do so and dispose of obsolete equipment in the most environmetnally friendly way possible.
  • We take environmental impact and energy saving features into consideration when purchasing new equipment. All new equipment purchased will be A rated wherever possible.
  • We use natural ventilation where feasible.

This policy covers all LSE Catering restaurants and cafes and will be reviewed annually, working with the Sustainability Team to ensure it aligns with the School's strategic goals.

Last reviewed by Jacqui Beazley, Head of Catering
Last review date January 2022