What is Sustainable
The Sustainable Development Commission describes sustainable food as food and drink that: is safe, healthy and nutritious, for consumers in shops, restaurants, schools, Universities etcetera
– provides a viable livelihood for farmers, processors and retailers, whose employees enjoy a safe and hygienic working environment whether in the UK or overseas
– respects biophysical and environmental limits in its production and processing, while reducing energy consumption and improving the wider environment
– respects the highest standards of animal health and welfare, compatible with the production of affordable food for all sectors of society
– supports rural economies and the diversity of rural culture, in particular through an emphasis on local products that keep food miles to a minimum
How is the
University working to achieving this?
The University of Reading has extensive activity within food and drink, from its farms, The National Fruit Collection, teaching and research in both Agriculture and Food Sciences as well as an extensive Catering operation. As a self-funded service of the University, we are committed to consistent improvement around sustainability in a manner that is financially sustainable to allow us to continue to invest in this area. We appreciate and understand that different individuals and groups have different interpretations and views on how to achieve this, so we try to be open and transparent on our progress, to encourage conversation and debate. All our physical outlets have been independently audited and certified through the Sustainable Restaurant Association’s Food Made Good scheme awarding us the maximum of three stars.
Please note Food Made Good is valid for two year.
We ask our regular suppliers to participate in helping us achieve our goals around sustainability by adopting and embracing this framework. Ad-hoc suppliers used for one-off purchases are checked by our team before we spend with them. We welcome micro-, small- and medium sized local and regional suppliers to join our supply chain either directly or via one of our appointed wholesalers.
The University operates all Catering Services in-house, for the benefit of staff and students and this policy covers all UK sites excluding the Students’ Union. Vending is excluded as it is operated by an independent contractor. The Museum of English Rural Life (University-owned) operate their own Cafe and are also committed to following this policy)
Menus of Change (MoC) provides a comprehensive free-to-use socially inclusive framework, providing the basis of continual improvement and 24 clear principles to work towards. Our successful application in 2020, to join the Menus of Change Universities Research Collaborative (MCURC) as the first full UK/European Member involved extensive review, auditing and verification of our activities across operational Catering, Research and Teaching.
As a MCURC member we are involved in the research both operationally and academically to inform and advance the MoC Principles including providing freely toolkits to assist operators. Our progress on MoC and MCURC will be independently audited and verified from 2022 and published here.
This document is a
living document of both completed actions and those in progress so will be
updated on a regular basis.
How are we working to achieve this?
Section 1 – Food
and Drink that is safe, healthy and nutritious, for consumers in shops,
restaurants, schools, Universities etcetera
Things we have done or are doing;
1.1.1 The University follows the principles of Menus of Change focussing on a range of topics including reducing meat consumption, dairy products, more vegetables etcetera. Full details are here www.menusofchange.org and below. This is a leading principle of how we achieve sustainable food. We are a member of the Menus of Change Universities Research Collaborative (MCURC), a group of leading Universities with interests in Food related subjects academically and who are committed to serving great food and advancing the Menus of Change through Academic Excellence. An overview of MCURC is here and example of the Food Impact poster here.
1.1.2 Between May 2019 and March 2020, a team of talented professional chefs has been put in place at Dining locations as part of the University’s focus on cooking nutritious and delicious food rather than processed foods.
1.1.43 Adoption of two vegetarian wholesalers, providing a wider range of vegan and vegetarian products, while reducing overall meat use per dish through the addition of items such as lentils in sauces
1.1.4 All outlets currently rate five stars for food hygiene – www.scoresonthedoors.org.uk
1.1.5 Ultra (highly) processed foods have been removed from our main meal production at Park Eat, Wantage, St. Pats, The Dairy, Park House and the Square.
1.1.6 Our Markets at Park Eat, Square and Pats are majority supplied by Suma Wholefoods, a vegetarian co-operative wholesaler.
1.1.7 Monosodium glutamate (MSG) or E621 is prohibited
1.1.18 Deep Fat frying has been either heavily restricted and removed.
1.1.19 We publish a full breakdown of every dish including ingredients, dietary suitability, allergens, greenhouse gases and nutritional breakdown and is available at http://foodmenus.info – our counter and packaging labels will provide a QR code linking to the detailed information. An example of our label is below (and the example on the portal here)
1.20. We have applied to join the Sustainable Restaurant Association’s Food Made Good Scheme to demonstrate through certification the standards that we operate to.
Things we are
1.2.1 Continue removal of any ultra (highly) processed foods
1.2.2. Full seasonality within our menus, we have currently written 2,500 recipes that cover Autumn/Winter. Spring and Summer are in progress.
Section 2 – Food and Drink that provides a viable livelihood for farmers, processors and retailers, whose employees enjoy a safe and hygienic working environment whether in the UK or overseas
Things we have done
or are doing;
2.1.1 The University is Fairtrade Certified, please see Sustainabilty’s website for further information.
2.1.2 All non-student staff working within Catering operations are on a permanent contract with specified hours such as 36 hours (full-time) or 15 hours with no zero-hour contracts in place. All members of non-student staff are directly employed by the University of Reading. We do not accept tips or levy any service charges.
significant number of products carried that are Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance,
UTZ, Cocoa Life or similar accreditation.
2.1.4 An increasing number of suppliers are
certified B Corps and Co-operatives.
are asked to meet the standards set out in this document during tender stage and
demonstrate how they can further support and advance the objectives of
Sustainable Food shown above. See suppliers section.
is provided to all staff around sustainable practices and our cooking teams
receive further training on creating menus that have a lower impact on the
2.1.7 MCURC – www.moccollaborative.org, TUCO – www.tuco.ac.uk, NACUFS – www.nacufs.org all provide our teams with further training and insights to develop teams.
2.1.8 We are fully owned and operated by the University who offer our permanent staff excellent benefits. All our permanent staff are employed on permanent contracts.
2.1.9 We currently provide employment to 450 students across campus within our Catering operations through Campus Jobs, the University’s bespoke service for students to fit jobs around academic student
2.1.10 Sustainable Food is a contract requirement in any tender documents issued by the University and makes commitments contractually binding.
The University of Reading requires our suppliers to meet the requirement of our Sustainability Food Policy, and to demonstrate continues commitment to sustainability.
We ask the following two questions in all of the catering related tenders as a minimum:
1. Please describe how your organisation shall meet and exceed UoR Catering Sustainability policy and framework. [5 Marks]
2. Please provide any accreditations and affiliations your organisation holds in relation to industry recognised organisations for ethical sourcing. Please provide evidence of this, i.e. upload copies relevant certificates. [5 Marks]
3. The University of Reading has achieved a 3 star Food Made Good award and is working towards achieving the Food for Life Gold Award. Please demonstrate how you would support the University in retaining and achieving the above? [5 marks]
Additionally, we consider each requirement individually, and add additional questions if required.
The University further monitors the compliance with the Sustainable Food Policy through supplier review meetings which also cover any new initiatives and improvements made by suppliers. Any significant developments within the food and beverage industry are considered when the Sustainable Food Policy is reviewed.
2.2.1 Improving supply chains to improve worker standards.
Audit Report – 2021 – 2023
Section 3 – Food
and Drink that respects biophysical and environmental limits in its production
and processing, while reducing energy consumption and improving the wider
What are doing or
3.1.1 The University is registered with MSC through TUCO and our chain of custody number is MSC-C-53312. All fish served by the University is MSC or ASC certified. We have been fully certified by MSC since 2013 (see here)
3.1.2 We are committed to reducing our food waste by 50% by 2030 compared to 2018. This will be achieved through using technology to predict service levels, reusing food leftover where safe to do so and cooking in smaller batches. Where we do have food waste, we will give as much away as possible (where permitted legally) with any remaining waste going to composting. Our Greenlands site uses an aerobic digester to turn waste food to compost for use around the grounds.
3.1.3 The following sites use entirely electricity for cooking; Park Eat, Park House, Greenlands, The Dairy, St. Patrick’s, Wantage and Park House. Eat at the Square uses electric with the exception of one piece of kit. For BBQs, we are gradually switching to UK sourced sustainably sourced charcoal rather than Propane as our team up-skill to cook on charcoal (it’s more of a challenge cooking for hundreds on Charcoal!)
3.1.4 Park Eat uses Air-Source Heat Pumps to provide heat from the outside air to heat the building and is carbon neutral. We are upgrading the Air-Source Heat Pumps in 2022 and removing the three gas boilers for Hot Water.
3.1.5 The majority of lighting across our outlets
has been switched to LED lighting.
3.1.6 All electricity used is from renewable sources
3.1.7 During Academic Year 2022/23 our recycling rates were;
This data covers Campus Commerce outlets at Eat at the Square, Park House, Wantage Bar & Catering, The Dairy, Park Eat, Greenlands, Dolchevita, St. Patrick’s, Sherfield and Ice House only. Other outlets use shared bins.
No waste goes to landfill, General Waste is sent to an Energy from Waste plant to create energy and heat through incineration.
3.1.8 In 2018 the University introduced Coca-Cola Freestyle as part of a reusable bottle system allowing use to significantly reduce the number of plastic bottles being transported onto Campus and consumed on campus. To date the system has saved around 250,000 bottles of water. In Summer 2022, we further built on this and removed Freestyle, replacing with Hydration Stations, providing free filter and sparkling water along side infusions.
September 2019, Frank the Barista, an innovative Coffee scheme was introduced
offering significant discounts to those using a University reusable Cup. This
has avoided 174,000 paper cups between 1st August 2018 and 31st July 2019.
3.1.10 The Grab and Go range made in-house for The Dairy, Wantage, St. Patrick’s, Architecture, Park Eat and Eat at the Square, is packaged in entirely plastic-free packaging that is also compostable.
3.1.11 The Choose to Reuse Meal Box scheme was introduced in September 2018, allowing customers to opt to use a reusable takeaway box that can be returned for washing to a number of outlets, where a clean one is given out.
3.1.12 All Water is sold in either packaging made from 100% recycled plastic (rPET) or aluminium cans. A hydration map of campus is also available showing where water can be found free of charge.
View our campus hydration map
containers, delivery trays and boxes are currently being used by a number of
suppliers including butchery, fruit and vegetables, wholefoods and beer &
3.1.14 The following sites use closed-fronted display fridges; The Dairy, Park Eat, Eat at the Square, Dolchevita, Architecture.
bar cellar systems have been moved to in-line cooling reducing the energy
required to keep drinks cold and offering significant improvements on energy
efficiency. We are currently on the second generation of system after testing
an earlier system for a third party in 2015.
3.1.16 All sites use Enzyme based cleaning products.
3.1.17 Up to 40 students are fed free of charge through our Eating Plan system allowing us to use food that would go to waste, to be used for a better purpose.
3.1.18 Infrared taps in following back of house
Kitchen areas; Hospitality Kitchen, Wantage, Park Eat, The Dairy, Eat at the
Square, Park House
3.1.19 Infrared taps in customer areas at the
following sites; Park Eat, The Dairy.
3.1.20 Greenlands, Park Eat, Eat at the Square, Wantage, Greenlands, St. Patrick’s and the Dairy use automatic dishwashers with waste water and heat recovery systems.
3.1.21 Zero Waste Stations for dried food and other
ingredients plus cleaning chemicals are available at Park Market and the Market
3.1.22 Plastic straws have been replaced with Turtle Straws, made from natural straw.
will purchase the most efficient appliance within it’s category, of the correct
size and capacity, when replacing equipment.
3.1.24 The majority of our crockery is sourced from UK Manufacturers working to excellent environmental standards and used by default in our restaurant outlets. Metal cutlery is also used.
3.1.25 Our suppliers are required to comply with our Sustainability Policy and Framework, with the aim of continual improvement.
3.1.26 Our Hydration Map of Campus shows where to find free tap water. Please note this is currently restricted due to Public Health legislation due to COVID-19.
3.1.26 Greenlands Campus have removed single use cups from Conference areas avoiding around 3,000 paper cups per week
3.1.27 We successfully applied for Salix Grant to replace all our existing large ovens (average age was around 14 years old) with smaller and more efficient ovens. Where 10×1 is stated this is read as an oven that fits 10 trays with one on each shelf, 20×2 would be 20 trays, with two on each shelf). The totals replaced are; Park Eat (3 ovens – 20×1), Eat at the Square (3 – 20×1), Wantage (2 – 10×1), Park House (2 – 10×1), The Dairy (2 – 10×1), St. Patrick’s (2 – 20×1), Greenlands (2 – 10×1). All were replaced with Rational iCombi Pro Ovens providing a significant saving on energy and water usage compared to the previous models. Any gas models were replaced with electric as part of this. Previous models were generally 20×2 or 10×2, so we reduced the oven cavity size by 50% reducing the volume that was being heated providing further savings. Installs were completed on 24 February 2021.
3.1.28 Protein Sources 2020. See link to sources in Section 8 – Data Sources.
3.1.29 ISO Audit, successful re-certification of our ISO14001/ISO50001.
3.1.30 Energy usage for Bars & Dining – see Section 8 for Data Sources
3.1.31 Minimum Purchasing Standards Summary
This is not exhaustive but illustrates the overall approach to different product areas.
We are committed to source as much as possible from the UK Farmers and Producers. Products sourcing should take into account locality prioritising local sources, then regional (South of England), then National (UK). Care should be taken around the carbon footprint of products grown under glass in the UK vs. the sun in warmer climates.
*applies to products from countries outside of UK, Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand.
**Beef and Lamb from our farms, we take the entire animal and use all possible parts. Pork is sourced externally and we operate the same approach of taking the entire animal to avoid waste. Some of our Beef is sourced from Dairy Cattle, traditionally seen as a waste product. The majority of our Beef is from heritage breed beef at Langley Mead
BD – Bars and Dining (The Dairy, Park House, Park Eat, Wessex, Wantage, St. Patrick’s, Hot Food in Hospitality, Architecture Cafe and the Square)
G – Greenlands
RH – Retail and Hospitality (Dolchevita, HBS, SportsPark Cafe, Trilobite, Agriculture Cafe, Library Cafe, Hospitality Services (not hot food), Before and After, Enterprise Centre, Cafe No.1 at Thames Valley Science Park)
3.1.32 We offer Magic Bags through Too Good To Go with items that are likely to go to waste at the end of the day in our Retail Locations. In our Dining areas we aim to minimise wastage through batch cooking and divert food that isn’t needed to other outlets such as our Pay-On-Entry Locations. We are required by law to place certain food into waste once it exceeds Food Safety parameters for example, food that has been on hot counters for a set period of time. This wasted food is sent for composting.
What we are working towards
3.2.1 The following sites are working towards removing natural gas for cooking with 2 gas appliances left to replace over across our entire estate. The number is brackets is a total number of appliances remaining that use natural gas for cooking. Eat at the Square (2 – 1x Solid Top, 1x Chargrill. Significant process has been made in upgrading power supplies to kitchens to enable the switch over to be made. Gas BBQs are being replaced with Kamado Charcoal BBQs. Last updated 3 May 2022.
3.2.2 Removal of single use plastics in process of
cooking foods e.g. Cling Film
of single use plastic pint glasses at Park Eat Bar, through modifications to
back of house areas to allow washing up of glassware on a large scale.
of a porcelain mug compatible with Frank the Barista system allowing the
complete removal of paper cups for hot drinks.
of a paper cup for external bar events where glass and polycarbonate cups
aren’t a practical solution or a rental system that includes washing, where
3.2.6 Doors on open fronted fridges at the Library (2), Agriculture (1), Before and After (1), Enterprise (1), TVSP (1), SportsPark (1).
3.2.7 Switch our fleet of five vehicles to pure electric. Two vehicles currently run diesel and three are all electric. The remaining two diesel vans will be replaced by two electric and one hybrid in Summer 2022. Recently the technology has improved around chilled all-electric vans suitable for food allowing us to begin the transition to all-electric.
to be carbon positive in our daily operations through generation of renewable
power on suitable sites.
3.2.9 Wrap Food Waste Road Map implementation.
3.2.10 Displaying Carbon Footprint information on
3.2.11 Smart Controls on Kitchen Ventilation Systems to lower speeds when cooking isn’t taking place at Wantage, The Dairy, Square and Greenlands. Installed at Park Eat and St. Patrick’s.
of Infrared taps in customer areas at Eat at the Square, St. Patrick’s, Park
3.2.13 Infrared taps in back of house areas at St.
3.2.14 Growing of fruit, herbs and vegetables on campus in a financially sustainable manner. The Flavour Garden is due to be built at Park House in May 2022.
3.2.15 Crockery and cutlery are available through our Delivered Catering Services, although this is more expensive as it is significantly more labour intensive due to the weight, manual handling issues including no lifts in many buildings, our vans not being able to park nearby and tight turnarounds for rooms. We are working on practical solutions including offering deliveries where customers supply their own crockery and/or re-usable cups. The safety our staff always comes first.
Section 4 – Food
and Drink that respects the highest standards of animal health and welfare,
compatible with the production of affordable food for all sectors of society
What have we done
or are doing;
4.1.1 The University purchases eggs externally these have been free-range eggs since 2012 and currently purchases these locally from Beechwood Farm. Egg based products such as mayonnaise are free-range where we use them as ingredients for cooking. Where egg products are in pre-made products we are working with suppliers to switch to free range where it isn’t already so.
4.1.2 The University is committed to reducing overall quantity of meat served per serving, while increasing the quality and animal welfare standard as per Menus of Change framework. The majority of Beef we use is raised by ourselves, we are moving to organic Pork in Spring 2022 and working on establishing a local organic chicken supply. Lamb is either from our own farms or elsewhere.
4.1.3 All fresh, raw meat is sourced from UK Farms and certified to the Red Tractor standard as a minimum.
4.1.4 Fresh farmed fish is ASC and fresh wild caught fish is MSC accredited. We are fully certified MSC through TUCO and have been since 2013 – see here
4.1.5 The majority of beef is sourced from our own farms, including cattle involved in grassland and meadow restoration projects (see Langley Mead website). Our farms are Red Tractor certified.
4.1.6 Purchase and serving of foie gras, Kopi Lauak Coffee amongst others are prohibited
4.1.7 All our physical outlets (excludes MERL and ICMA) have been audited and certified by the Sustainable Restaurant Association’s Food Made Good with the highest rating of 3 Stars. This covers all our physical outlets and operations except our Reading Hospitality Service.
What we are working
meat sourced from external sources certified free-range or RSPCA Assured as a
4.2.2 We are working towards Food for Life Certification
Section 5 – Food or
Drink that supports rural economies and the diversity of rural culture, in
particular through an emphasis on local products that keep food miles to a
NB Our definition
of local is products and produce from Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire and
Oxfordshire. Regional includes Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Somerset, Surrey
& West Sussex. The University is spread across Berkshire, Oxfordshire and
5.1.1 Our farms provide the majority of raw beef used in our cookery as well as fruit and lamb from our own farms. Much of our beef is involved in grassland restoration at Langley Mead Nature Reserve.
have direct relationships with a number of local and regional suppliers that
deliver, produce and/or supply alcoholic drinks;
– Ascot Brewing,
– Binghams Brewery,
– Chiltern Wines, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire
Cotswold Cider Company, Coleshill, Oxfordshire
– Elusive Brewing,
Shepperton Mallet, Somerset
– Loddon, Dunsden
– Loose Cannon,
– Lovibonds, Henley-on-Thames,
– Phantom Brewing,
– Rebellion Brewery,
– Reunion Ales,
Feltham, West London
– Siren Craft Brewery, Finchampstead, Berkshire
-Sharpham Wines, Twyford, Berskshire
– SH Jones, Oxford
– Tap Social Movement,
– Tutts Clump
Cider, Bradfield, West Berkshire
– West Berkshire
Brewery, Yattendon, Berkshire
– Wild Weather
Ales, Aldermaston Berkshire
– Windsor &
Eton, Windsor, Berkshire
– XT Brewing,
have direct and indirect relationships with a number of local and regional
suppliers that deliver, produce and/or supply food;
– Beechwood Eggs, Thatcham,
– Cotswold Fayre,
– Warings Bakery,
Spencers Wood, Berkshire
– Hobbs Bakery, Chipping
– Bug Amusements,
– Jungs Bakery,
– University of Reading Farms, Sonning and Shinfield, Berkshire
– Oxford Charcoal Company
– Phil Bodwitch,
– Snaffling Pig,
Ashampstead Common, Berkshire
– Solent Butchers,
– Clarks (Wantage)
t/a Wessex Mill, Wantage, Oxfordshire
– West Horsley
Dairy, Lightwater, Surrey
– Coco Loco,
Horsham, West Sussex
– Cotswold Fudge Company, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire
– Nettlebed Creamery, Hampshire
– Village Maid Cheese, Berkshire
5.1.4 Our menus reflect seasonality running on a 52 week cycle with an emphasis on produce (plant-forward) from the British Isles and all fresh, raw meat being sourced from the UK. Where items come from abroad, we seek to source from the closest, lowest-carbon source, e.g. Spanish Orange Juice rather than South Africa, Soya from the US and Canada rather than Brazil or UK Grown Sugar rather than the Caribbean.
5.1.5 We encourage and support local businesses attempting to tender for contracts. Contact email@example.com for assistance.
5.1.6 The University provides a walled garden for student-led gardening next to Bridges Hall. Find out more here.
5.1.7 The University has provided allotments for the local community in Shinfield. You read more about this here
5.1.8 The University worked with Reading Borough Council to provide 1,000 School Meals free of charge to those in need in October 2020.
5.1.9 Herb Garden at Greenlands for our Chefs to use for their cooking
5.2.1 Increasing the amount of food coming from
our own farms
5.2.2 Source milk from University Farms
5.2.3 Investigating further sources of local food
Increase the use of seasonal food
We view this document as a baseline of the standards we are currently achieving and through competitive tender processes want to partner with suppliers that share our desire to improve and elevate standards.
processes please explain how you are able to continue to help us improve during
the contract period, for example, using returnable packaging or delivery trays,
removing/reducing single use plastic etc.
7. Prohibited Items
7.1 The following products are prohibited
within our operations
Tobacco and nicotine-containing substances
Kopi Lauak Coffee
Fruit (Gaming) machines
MSC Red-list Species including Categories 4 and 5 on the Good Fish Guide.
Expanded Foam Food Single Use Containers
Single Use Plastic disposable plates, bowls and stirrers.
This list only covers items that are legally saleable and is not
exhaustive. Items that are illegal, we cannot sell, so are not listed.
7.2 The following products require caution
when being used by our team
Cashew, in relation to worker safety
Soya, in relation to where it has been grown and possible Rainforest deforestation. Hidden sources of soya such as in Animal feeds should be considered including their origin. Any soya used in our supply chain must be certified as sustainable.
Palm Oil, in relation to Rainforest deforestation. The University does not use Palm Oil as a primary ingredient in cooking as we use primarily Rapeseed, Sunflower and Olive Oil from the UK and Europe. As a University that primarily cooks it’s own food from scratch we have far more control over our supply chain. Where Palm Oil is present it must be certified as Sustainable although we are working to remove from supply chains.
Beef, in relation to greenhouse gas emissions and using sparingly. All beef using in cooking is sourced from our own farms from grass-fed cattle.
Section 8 – Data Sources
8.1.1. Recycling Dataset (Licensed for non-commercial, education use only)
8.1.2 Protein Sources Dataset (Licensed for non-commercial, education use only)
8.1.3 Energy Use Dataset (Licensed for non-commercial, education use only)
8.1.4. Sales and Purchasing Dataset (Licensed for non-commercial, education use only) – Unavailable
Document Owners – Heads of Catering; Last updated – 30 October 2023
Approval Route – Director of Campus Commerce; Approval Annually. First issued September 2010.
Last Approved – 30 October 2023. Next Approval 1 November 2024.