LSE Catering and the environment

Environmental, sustainable and healthy food policy and targets

We recognise that catering operations can have a significant impact on the environment. This page explains the aims and targets of our sustainability policy.

LSE Catering recognises the significant impact that catering operations can have on the environment. As a provider of mass catering we ensure that our activities not only comply with environmental regulations but exceed them wherever possible in every aspect of our operations.

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.

Oversight and delivery

We will ensure ongoing improvement by periodically reviewing sustainability targets, measuring performance against them, and reporting on this via the Residential and Catering Services Environmental Management Working Group (EMWG), which is chaired by the Director of Facilities Management. The Green Impact scheme will also be used to help deliver projects and targets where appropriate.

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.

Review schedule
Last reviewed by Jacqui Beazley, Head of Catering
Last review date October 2018

Our aims

Energy and carbon reduction

  • Minimise energy and water consumption through efficient administration, equipment selection, usage and disposal, food storage, preparation and cooking.

Waste reduction

  • 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).
  • Any unavoidable food waste will be collected daily and sent to a local unit for turning into usable compost, or sent to an anaerobic digestion (AD) plant. We will monitor this waste to see where reductions may be made.
  • We will encourage customers to use crockery instead of disposables, and provide reusable/recyclable/biodegradable products instead of polystyrene.

Sustainable procurement

  • 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).
  • Provide healthy and sustainable options in all catering outlets and hospitality menus.
  • Provide meat, poultry, dairy and eggs from sources using practices that conform to high environmental, social and animal welfare standards, as budgets allow.
  • Use fish from sustainable stocks, promoting fish recommended by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS).
  • Provide local and seasonal fruit and vegetables wherever possible.
  • Promote Fairtrade products and increase the provision of Fairtrade goods where possible.
  • We engage with small-scale suppliers of sustainable products to provide a platform for selling their produce in our units. 

Education, communication and community involvement

  • 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.     
  • Build responsibility for sustainable issues into the roles of all catering staff and support this with appropriate training.
  • Have sustainability as a standard item on agendas for the Catering Services User Group (CSUG) and management meetings.

Our targets

We are working in a sustainable, healthy and environmentally friendly way across all our products and services.To see our target statements, select a topic below.

Energy and carbon

  • We will 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 will turn off equipment, heating, lighting and water when not needed and use auto-timers where possible.
  • We will use natural ventilation where feasible.
  • We will take environmental impact and energy saving features into consideration when purchasing new equipment. All new equipment purchased will be A rated wherever possible.
  • We will regularly service equipment to increase the energy efficiency of appliances.
  • We will reuse equipment where practical to do so and dispose of obsolete equipment in the most environmentally friendly way possible.

Waste

  • We will actively look at ways to reduce the amount of waste material we generate by engaging with our suppliers regarding packaging and encourage suppliers to adopt re-usable crates.
  • 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).
  • We will 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 will monitor and review this monthly to see if there are any patterns to help us to reduce our waste and report via the Catering Environmental Management Working Group (EMWG). Daily food waste is recorded in all units.
  • We encourage use of refillable water bottles. Cold water bottles are stocked and promoted for customer use in our units.
  • 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 to reduce the amount of disposable cup waste and will report the amount of KeepCups sold per month to the EMWG. Since October 2016 we have offered a 10p discount to users of re-usable cups in our units. From September 2018 we increased the discount to 25p and introduced a 10p levy on single-use coffee cups. Funding received through LSE's Sustainable Projects Fund allows us to sell KeepCups at a subsidised price. 
  • We re-home used plastic food containers by giving them away free to staff and students for future use as storage containers, etc. Halls catering have introduced a re-usable plastic food box to reduce student use of disposables.
  • We monitor leftover packaged food items, and donate them if viable to initiatives such as Food Cycle and Save Food. During 2017/18 we donated wrapped food items to LSE Food Cycle for distributing to people in need. 
  • Plastic straws have been replaced by paper straws since April 2018.

Water

  • We will actively support students and staff drinking tap water and positively encourage the use of drinking fountains.
  • We will ensure that all new catering facilities will provide drinking water fountains.
  • We will work with the school to encourage an increase in the number of drinking fountains on campus to help reduce bottled water sales. The main campus now has 63 drinking water fountains, designed for filling both cups and bottles. To see where they are visit: Water fountains - LSE Facilities Guide
  • We have offered tap water in jugs, or purified still and sparkling tap water bottled on site using re-usable glass bottles in all our serviced hospitality since 2010.
  • We charge a levy of 10p on all bottles of water purchased to be put towards LSE environmental improvement projects. To date this initiative has raised over £71,280 (July 2018). The LSE's Environmental Management Review Group assesses environmental projects to benefit from this money.
  • 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.

Procurement

  • We are active members of TUCO (The Universities Caterers Organisation) and use TUCO Purchasing Framework Agreements. Through this suppliers are nominated and regulated and environmental and sustainability issues are embedded into tendering specifications, see: TUCO sustainable procurement
  • 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 are engaging with smaller local niche suppliers such as our London based cake supplier and greengrocer who sources seasonal local produce from farms in his immediate area whenever possible.
  • Our dairy supplier sources their milk from farms from the home counties.

Fruit and vegetables

  • 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 will encourage healthy eating in all LSE Catering restaurants by providing salad bars with daily freshly prepared ingredients.
  • We will provide a selection of fresh fruit in all Catering units. Seasonal fruit will be stocked in preference to out of season fruit.
  • 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. Since July 2015 we have been working 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
  • Since December 2012, our fruit and vegetable supplier has marked area of origin on all fruit and vegetable delivery notes to ensure that we can make informed choice on where our products are coming from and allow us to increase the amount of seasonal and local produce when it is available, we currently monitor this. In the year ending July 2018 we achieved 33 per cent of fruit and vegetables being UK grown.
  • We offer vegetarian 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.
  • 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 now offer vegan menu choices at the main restaurant (main campus) at least twice a week and daily in the halls of residence. 

Meat, poultry and dairy

  • We are committed to ensuring we will increase higher welfare meat and dairy, where possible using Red Tractor Assured produce. Where we can't reduce consumption of livestock produce we will endeavour to improve sustainable rearing practices i.e. a 'Less but better' quality approach.
  • We have from 2011 only provided 100% free range chickens on all hospitality dinners. Since 2014 all meat served in halls is Red Tractor and since May 2016 our halal chicken meat is Red Tractor standard across all units. Organic beef is now served in the catered halls once a week. 
  • Since July 2013 all our milk is certified Red Tractor Assured or equivalent. Since 2017, milk in catered halls is organic and is sourced from farms around the London area. 

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.
  • We achieved a Good Egg Award and Good Food on the Public Plate Award for ensuring that we only use free-range eggs in November 2010. Since 2017, the four catered halls only use organic free-range eggs that are sourced from a local farm. 

Fish

  • We only use fish that are rated "1, 2 or 3" on the Marine Conservation Society's (MCS) Good Fish Guide. We will continue to monitor the list and act promptly to remove any fish that are added to the list due to a change in the sustainability of the item.
  • We will promote sustainable fish and seafood to customers, ensuring we endorse fish that is in the Marine Conservation Society's Good Fish Guide. During 2018 we ran campaigns to raise awareness of alternative sustainable species to our customers by providing clear information at the point of sale.
  • 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 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.

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, this is then used in their delivery vans and by local companies, and report the amount recycled via the EMWG. In the year 2016/17 we recycled 6450 litres of oil which was converted into 6063 litres of biodiesel (University of Singapore conversion ratio applied).

Fairtrade

  • In June 2017, LSE regained Fairtrade University status.
  • Since 2004 all our catering outlets serve tea, coffee and sugar that is ethically traded, Fairtrade refreshments are served at all conferences, meetings and events. Since June 2014 the bananas on sale in all catering outlets are 100% Fairtrade.
  • We will endeavour to increase our ethically traded offer, adding at least one more ethically traded product per year, where available.
  • We will promote Fairtrade products and actively support Fairtrade Fortnight in all catering units and provide year round information which supports Fairtrade initiatives.
  • We will monitor the percentage of sales that are Fairtrade and report figures via the EMWG, at a minimum we ensure 10 per cent are Fairtrade. Since December 2013 we have ensured that a minimum are 11 per cent Fairtrade. As part of our on-going commitment by December 2014 we ensured at a minimum 12 per cent Fairtrade. In year 2017/18 we achieved 20 per cent of Fairtrade sales.
  • We will serve triple accredited (Fairtrade, Organic and Rainforest Alliance) coffee in the Garrick, 4th Floor Cafe Bar, Bean Counter, Cafe 54 and Mezzanine Cafes. (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 which has direct links with its suppliers across the globe and holds high ethical trading values. 

Cleaning

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

Disposables

  • We will discourage take-away by providing comfortable seating in all our facilities and provide crockery wherever dishwashing facilities are available.
  • We will not use polystyrene and will use recycled, recyclable or biodegradable products where practical where disposables are unavoidable.
  • We no longer use plastic straws and have replaced them with paper straws in all our outlets. 

Transport

  • We will 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 vehicles.
  • We will manually transport goods and services within our site.
  • We will require staff to use public transport when on business travel.
  • The university offers a cycle purchasing scheme and season ticket loan scheme to encourage staff to travel to work.

Education, communication and community

  • We will 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 EMWG. We have Twitter and Facebook accounts where we post details and photos to highlight our sustainability achievements.
  • Money from the LSE Sustainable Projects Fund helped install perspex screens 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, Fairtrade Fortnight, Vegetarian Week and actively support student, environment and sustainability office and HR/Wellbeings healthy and sustainable initiatives at a minimum 15 days per year.
  • We will enhance staff, customer and supplier awareness of relevant environmental and social effects of a sustainable diet via promotional guidance, product information and awareness campaigns. In 2016 we introduced pop up 'food festival' events at which we have included a sustainability tent to promote a range of LSE Catering sustainability topics and achievements to students and staff. In 2017/18, we held two International Vegan Forward Food Chefs Workshops in partnership with the Humane Society. This was to encourage and enable chefs to develop menus away from meat products and put more plant foods on plates, exploring umami, creating texture and understanding pulses, whole grains and pseudo cereals.
  • We will work with the LSE Environmental team to follow best practice and ensure that our local aims are aligned to the university strategic aims.
  • 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 10p per bottle purchased will be put towards an LSE environmental improvement project".
  • We will include environmental sustainability issues on all team meeting agenda.
  • We participate each year in the SU Green Impact Scheme, entering teams from our units and in 2017 achieved two Gold awards. In 2018 we achieved a Silver Award for our sustainable fish project. 
  • In 2015 we achieved a two star rating with the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA), placing us in the top 80 per cent of SRA rated UK universities. In 2018 the three main restaurants and four catered halls improved their result to a three star rating. Our halls catering also achieved the Silver Food for Life Award from the Soil Associaton in 2018, and the LSE Garrick received a Bronze Food for Life Award in September 2018. 
  • We will 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.
  • We will have sustainability information noticeboards in all our units to inform staff and customers of environmental and sustainability matters. 
  • We will seek appropriate training for all levels of staff to encourage awareness of sustainable and healthy eating issues.