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.

Key initiatives

 Oversight and delivery

We will ensure ongoing improvement by periodically reviewing sustainability targets, measuring performance against them, and reporting on this via the Catering Sustainability Working Group chaired by the Head of Sustainability which leads into the Sustainability Operations Group 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 February 2021

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
  • 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 encourage customers to use crockery instead of disposables, and provide reusable/recyclable/biodegradable products instead of polystyrene.
  • 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 Sustainability Working Group. Daily food waste is recorded in all units at till points. Read more at LSE Food waste [PDF].

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 provide greenhouse gas calculations at regular intervals in our restaurants to highlight the carbon saving benefits of plant based diets. We will label the main hot dishes in the restaurants with a Carbon Impact traffic light labelling system to raise awareess of the carbon impact of different food types in the dishes and encourage increased uptakein low carbon options.
  • 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.
  • We will take the environmental impact of supplier transportation into consideration when procuring goods and services. West Horsley who supply to us have FORS accreditation and use Eco-Hybrid vehicles.
  • We have increased the uptake of plant based dishes in the period 2018 to 2019 from 14% to 45% which resulted in an estimated 20 tonnes reduction of carbon emissions.


  • We will actively look at ways to reduce the amount of waste material we generate by engaging with our suppliers regarding packaging.
  • We have introduced cardboard sandwich platter boxes which have replaced plastic platters.
  • 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 Sustainability Working Group. Daily food waste is recorded in all units at till points. Read more at LSE Food waste [PDF].
  • We encourage use of refillable water bottles. Subsidised 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 Sustainability Working Group. 
  • We will highlight the amount of plastic saved by customers using a reusable cup in our outlets on a montlhy basis. In September 2020 we introduced a 25p levy on single use coffee cups to encourage the use of the keep cups by behavioral change.
  • We re-home used plastic food containers by giving them away free to staff and students for future use as storage containers, etc. 
  • We monitor leftover packaged food items, and donate them if viable to initiatives such as Food Cycle and Save Food. Since 2018/19 we have donated wrapped food items to LSE 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.
  • We replaced plastic straws with paper straws in April 2018.
  • We only provide wooden cutlery for takeaways.
  • We now provide re-usable plastic drinking cups in our outlets for hospitality functions to save on single use plastic water cups.


  • 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 67 drinking water fountains, designed for filling both cups and bottles. To see where they are visit: Water fountains - LSE Facilities Guide (at present to ensure safety of our community all water fountains withing free acces areas have been isolated and are out of service)
  • 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 charge a levy of 10p on all bottles of water purchased to be put towards LSE environmental improvement projects by donating the oney rasied to the LSESU Sustainable Futures Society. To date this initiative has raised £85,706 (August 2020). The LSE's Environmental Management Review Group assesses environmental projects to benefit from this money. We have introduced water from companies that are actively involved in delivering water projects to companies in the developing world.
  • 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 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.  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 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. 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
  • Our fruit and vegetable supplier marks 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 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.
  • 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. 
  • 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 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 August 2019 and in October 2019 the Shaw team were shortlisted for a special award by Food for Life.
  • The Fawcett Cafe is a small vegan and vegetarian satellite cafe.
  • We highlight to customers the plant based hospitality menu items and ask them to consider the environment when making their food choices.

Meat, poultry 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. Since 2017, milk in catered halls is organic and is sourced from farms around the London area. 


  • 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.


  • We only use 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 promote sustainable fish and seafood to customers, ensuring we endorse fish that is in the Marine Conservation Society's Good Fish Guide. 
  • 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
  • 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.


  • 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. Between August 2018 and July 2019 we recycled 6720 litres of oil.


  • 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 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 Catering sustainability meeting, at a minimum we ensure 10 per cent are Fairtrade. In year 2019/20 we achieved 24.8 per cent of Fairtrade sales.
  • 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 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.


  • 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. Any takeaway cutlery provided is wooden.


  • 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 Catering Environmental Meeting. 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 fund an investigative trip around the Scottish Coast. It has also enabled the installation of  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, Veganary, 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. In 2019/20 we held 20 events across campus.
  • 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. 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 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, 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 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 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 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.