Imperial launches new Sustainable Food and Drink Policy

The College commits to removing beef from its menus entirely by 2025 and making all non-dairy milk free of charge as part of a set of bold targets.

The College has launched a new Sustainable Food and Drink Policy, outlining a set of ambitious targets to reduce the impact its catering and retail outlets have on the environment.

The policy, led by the College’s in-house catering team, Taste Imperial, is an outcome document of the Sustainability Strategy 2022-26, and will apply to all outlets, restaurants, bars and stores on-campus. It includes commitments to:

  • Phase out beef products from College menus by 30% per year, ultimately removing them entirely by 2025-26.
  • Make all non-dairy milks no extra charge within 2022-23.
  • Only serve fish that is Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Certified.
  • Prioritise local, seasonal produce across-the-board.
  • Introduce a revised reusable cup scheme to reduce single-use cups across campus.
  • Increase the educational materials available in outlets on sustainable food and drink choices.
  • Develop community spaces to support student and staff involvement in sustainable food projects.

READ THE FULL SET OF TARGETS ONLINE

The Policy, developed in consultation with students and staff, encompasses all aspects of sustainable food, including procurement, preparation, provision, food waste management, and education.

Food and sustainability

In the UK alone, domestic food production accounts for approximately 20% of our greenhouse gas emissions. Beef production, in particular, is a major contributor to climate change, in which it is estimated that global beef production releases the most greenhouse gas emissions, which include methane. A global average of 110lb (50kg) of greenhouse gases is released per 3.5oz of protein (BBC 2021).

The Policy outlines 24 targets that the College aims to accomplish within the next four years, to contribute to the progress that the department has already embedded.

The new Policy sets a clear pathway to embed and achieve these key targets. It encompasses a ‘whole of college’ approach, meaning that the policy will apply to all Catering outlets across the College, including in-house Taste Imperial outlets, events and hospitality services, outlets operated by Imperial College Union, as well as third-party outlets. The College will therefore work in partnership with internal and external contractors and suppliers to minimise negative environmental, ethical, and social impact.

While this Policy sets out ambitious objectives and targets for the next four years, I am proud to say that we are already beginning to make strides to accomplish them. Kamil Khoury Head of Catering and Events

Head of Catering and Events, Kamil Khoury said:

“The College is a global leader in research on climate change and sustainability, so it’s important that we walk the walk ourselves. The food and drink sector will play a huge role in reaching the UK’s Net Zero targets, and I’m incredibly happy that we will be on the forefront here at the College. Our ultimate goal is to develop and apply an ethical and sustainable procurement system to ensure that the College’s social and environmental impacts are appropriately considered.

While this Policy sets out ambitious objectives and targets for the next four years, I am proud to say that we are already beginning to make strides to accomplish them. We look forward to continuing to work with the Imperial community to bring about transformative change.”

Tony Shepherd, Executive Chef and Head of Food Production, noted that the Policy has the potential to be controversial.

“The goal is never to remove choice for our customers. It’s a difficult balance; we want to educate and inform so that we can all make more sustainable choices. But then there are things – beef is an example – where we’re limited by what our supply chain can do. We can’t realistically provide a more ‘sustainable route’ for beef products ourselves, so we must make the call that it will be replaced with options that are more sustainable.”

Tony and his team have worked hard across the last year to develop menu options that will prioritise foods that have a smaller environmental impact, including beans, pulses, organic fruits and vegetables and more.

The College has committed to examine the Policy at least once a year to assess targets, and ensures to provide the Imperial community with the knowledge needed to promote sustainable development and to take action.

Read the full Sustainable Food and Drink Policy document on the Catering and Events webpage

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