Show/hide main menu

Sustainable Food & Drink

Sustainable Food & Drink

What we choose to eat and drink contributes significantly to our environmental and social impacts. Therefore, diet is a crucial factor in adopting a more sustainable lifestyle. This is one area where voting with your wallet can have a significant, real-world impact. In addition, food is vital to health and well-being and for that reason alone it is well worth your attention. 

There are a lot of opportunities to eat sustainably on campus at King's Food outlets. To start your week on an environmentally friendly note, you can try vegetarian options on Meat Free Mondays. Throughout the week there is a delicious salad bar, to help you eat healthily and meat free. 

If you're buying takeaway, you can avoid using disposable cutlery by bringing your own. Similarly, all King's Food outlets sell reusable Keep Cups. You get a free drink when you buy the cup, and save 20p per hot drink purchased in your reusable cup afterwards.

Food & Drink Tips:

Reducing Single-Use Disposables

Starting 4th February 2019 you’ll see some changes at King’s Food when we will introduce a 20p levy on single-use takeaway coffee cups.   This follows feedback from students asking that we do more to reduce waste.  This initiative also supports King’s Vision 2029 aim to operate a sustainable estate.  The aim is to encourage our customers to play an active role in reducing waste by bringing their own cups.

What happens with the money raised by the levy?

The money raised by the levy will go into a Sustainability Ideas Fund and at the end of the year students can decide how they want to use it by pitching ideas to the Fairtrade and Sustainable Foods Steering Group, attended by KCLSU, King’s Food as well as student representatives.

What happens if I do not have my own cup?

Any customers still needing a takeaway cup will be able to have one, with the 20p levy added to the overall cost of the hot drink. We are introducing crockery mugs into more of our outlets for customers that wish to drink within the coffee shop areas.

We aim to reduce the waste we produce

Across King’s we produce over 2,500 tonnes of waste each year, and our catering outlets hand out nearly half a million disposable coffee cups to customers. Not only does this create a problem by creating waste and litter, but there are significant upstream impacts of energy, water and materials used to manufacture something that on average is used for less than 20 minutes. In rolling out this initiative we’re following best practice guide developed by Sustainable Restaurant Association of which King’s Food is a member of, who carried out comprehensive research on how to reduce the impact of catering. We’re also learning from several other universities who have seen use of disposables reduce significantly when a levy was introduced.

Why can these disposable items not be easily recycled?

Paper cups have a plastic lining bonded to the cardboard, and this means that they can’t be included with other paper and card in normal mixed recycling bins, and only get recycled if collected separately. Alongside efforts to reduce the use of disposable coffee cups, the University has introduced special bins around campus and in our cafes to segregate paper cups so that they can be sent for specialist recycled.

Empty plastic drinks bottles and cans always go in mixed recycling, if empty, but anything contaminated with food has to be put into general waste, regardless of what material it’s made from. Putting contaminated food containers or incorrect items such as paper cups in mixed recycling will likely mean the whole bin has to be disposed. Plastic food containers must be rinsed before recycling to remove the food residue, which is easy to do at home or in our residences, but usually not possible in cafes. Customers can help reduce other disposables by choosing crockery if they are staying in one of our cafes to eat their meal. 

Our target goal over the coming months

Our target is to issue 50,000 fewer disposable cups throughout 2019, and we can only achieve this with your help.

Over the coming months we’ll closely monitor the impact of the levy and track how much we are reducing the amount of disposables used. This initiative supports the #Dontbetrashy waste reduction campaign launched at University residences in September 2018.  We will share our findings and results with other universities as part of the Global Consortium for Sustainability Outcomes, to help accelerate solutions to the global plastic waste problem. We’ll also share our experience with the #OneLess network, which is aiming to make London single-use bottle free.

We are constantly changing

The levy is just one of many things King’s Food are doing to make a positive impact on the environment through delivering the Sustainable Food Policy. We’re reviewing our practices to see how we can reduce water and energy use, and continue to review where we produce waste and how we can minimise it.

We’ve already made many changes to reduce our own impact, reduce our use of plastics., and to reduce food waste. The new King’s Kitchen at Bush House has been designed from the outset for minimal impact, and we now offer a wholly Vegan menu in Bush House 8th floor as part of our commitment eat healthily.

King’s Keep cups

KCL branded Keep cups are available at main restaurants at all campuses though you can use any re-usable cup.

Organic Food

Research suggests that eating organic is healthier for you, and it’s undoubtedly better for the environment through its general rejection of chemicals and high standards of environmental and animal welfare. Organic products can be more expensive than their conventional counterparts, but this is for good reason and one has to consider if the benefits merit the difference in price.

Fairtrade Certification

Fairtrade certification indicates a high standard of welfare for producers and allows typically exploited small-scale operations to improve their trading position and returns.

Buy Local

Supporting local production can reduce carbon emissions while providing a boost to the local economy. Further, it generally means fresh food, which can be healthier, and seasonal food, which is more sustainable. Farmers’ Markets offer cheap, local products with minimal packaging. Better yet, grow your own!

Reducing Meat Consumption

Meat and animal products are far more resource-intensive than alternative options. The UN has long-urged lower meat consumption as key to tackling climate change, not to mention animal welfare issues. There are also clear health benefits to such dietary change. Pledge to be a part-time carnivore today.

Reduce Food Waste

UK households throw away 7 million tonnes of food every year (at a cost of £12.5 billion), largely attributable to cooking too much and not using leftovers. Love Food Hate Waste can help you to plan your portions and give you ideas for re-using leftover food.

You can use this Food Waste Calculator to estimate how much of the fresh food you buy ends up in the bin. The tool works out the environmental impact as well as how much money you're wasting. 


Sitemap Site help Terms and conditions  Privacy policy  Accessibility  Modern slavery statement  Contact us

© 2020 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454