We know that having a good range of food and drink that’s sustainable and ethically sourced - while at affordable prices - is important to you. As part of our Sustainability Sub-Strategy consultation you had lots of suggestions for ways we could improve food and drink on our three campuses. We have been taking on board your feedback and wanted to update you with information on what’s available and what we have planned.
You said: You wanted more water stations on campus.
We offer: Across all three campuses we have 81 water fountains. We encourage staff and students to bring in their own reusable water bottles and refill on campus. You can find water coolers on the ‘find your way’ app. Remember you can also refill your water bottle in your departmental kitchen. You can also use the Refill app to find out where you can refill outside of campus.
We're working on: We will be adding more water stations in key locations to make it even easier to find a place to get your hydration.
You said: You wanted more vegetarian and plant-based options in food outlets on campus.
We offer: Many of the Essex Food outlets offer a great range of plant-based meals on campus. Plant- based milk alternatives are also available in all of our Essex Food outlets and are an option for any internal hospitality to order.
We're working on: Essex Food are working closely with their suppliers to improve standards and make sustainable the norm. By 2026 vegetarian and vegan options will represent at least 50% of Essex Food menus.
You said: You wanted more staff and students to use reusable cups on campus.
We offer: Essex Food outlets at Colchester offer a 10p discount when you bring a reusable cup. Your 10th Drink is free when you scan your Essex Food rewards app. At SU outlets you can save 10% when you take your own cup.
Off campus most high street cafes offer discounts too, so remember your cup when you’re out and about.
We’re working on: A campaign to reduce use of single use plastic water bottles and coffee cups, as well as a single-use plastics policy that will apply across our campuses. We’ll also be exploring ways to further reduce the use of single-use coffee cups.
You said: You wanted our food outlets to use local food and suppliers that conform to a high standard.
We offer: In the Sustainable Food Policy, one of Essex Food’s core principles is to use local, seasonally available ingredients as standard, to minimise energy used in food production, transport and storage. They are committed to ensuring 100% of the livestock produce meets the Red Tractor Assured standards as a minimum.
What we’re working on: Sustainable food and drink policies that ensure ethical and sustainable purchasing, using local and seasonal produce, will be created and being delivered by 2023. Essex Food is developing even more robust approaches to sustainable and ethical food supply.
You said: You wanted us to reduce food waste on our campuses
We offer: There are dedicated food waste bins across main academic buildings, and we run campaigns to encourage staff and students to reduce food waste, including cooking tips. Essex Food reviews portion sizes to avoid waste and adjusts menus to make the best use of produce. They also recycle cooking oil, which is used in the production of bio-diesel.
What we’re working on: There will be a food waste audit across all areas to identify ways to reduce food waste and ensure any leftovers are collected for appropriate recycling. A food waste collection trial will be undertaken in accommodation areas by 2023.
Our commitment for ongoing change
Food outlets contribute to our environmental impact, so we will continue to encourage the reduction of food waste they produce and promote the use of reusable cups to reduce our single use plastic waste. We will continue to use local food suppliers and improve our plant based options too.
We are on a journey of improvement and development; there are many challenges ahead, but also a lot of exciting opportunities. To learn more about our ambitions and progress, visit our sustainability webpages. We will be providing updates on our response to your feedback to the consultation in a series of blogs – please check back regularly to learn more.