Food waste and disposables
Food waste presents a significant problem due to the volume of waste that is produced each year. In fact, in the UK alone, it's estimated that we throw away around 9.5 million tonnes of food waste annually.
Across campus, we provide food waste bins so food waste can be collected by our waste provider, Enva. It is then processed locally by an anaerobic digester in Colwick. There, it can be used to create fertilizer, soil amendments and livestock bedding. The resulting biomethane is used to create heat and electricity.
In 2022/23 the University collected a total of 96 tonnes of food waste (up from 63 tonnes in 2021/22) from across the University (including Halls of Residence).
Our food waste poster details what can and can’t be included.
To find out more about how to dispose of different types of waste, visit the A-Z guide to waste.
Too Good To Go
Since January 2022, we have partnered with Too Good to Go, which is an app that helps businesses sell their surplus food at a cheaper price, so less food goes to waste.
At the end of each week, some of our cafes sell ‘magic bags’ for £4, which have a range of food items that are nearly out of date, with a value of around £12. Customers can get themselves a bargain, and it means we can reduce food waste too.
In 2022, we sold 1,118 bags which has saved 2.7 tonnes of CO2e.
Currently these outlets are using the app:
- Coates Café
- George Green Library Café
- Hallward Library Café
- Hipps Café (Med School)
- Hemsley Café
- Marmont Cafe
- Trent Cafe
- DRSV Cafe
You can download the app by scanning the QR code or by searching in your phone’s app store for Too Good to Go.
Disposable items made of composite material - such as coffee cups - cannot easily be recycled as they are made from multiple materials that are hard to separate. They therefore must go in our general waste. However, this waste can be reduced in the first place through the use of reusable cups.
To encourage staff and students to bring their own reusable cups for hot drinks, our catering outlets operate the Latte Levy. This is a 20p discount when a customer uses their own cup when buying a drink. There is also an addition 20p charge for using a disposable cup. This means customers can save up to 40p on their drinks just by using their own cup.
If you're buying three drinks a week, you could save around £50 a year!
Currently, approximately 15% of the hot drinks we’ve sold at our retail outlets have been in reusable cups instead of disposables.
In 2023 this saved:
However, we can still do better. 94% of staff and students previously told us they’d commit to using reusable cups. If you don’t already have one, you can buy a reusable cup from many outlets across our campuses.
Proceeds from the Latte Levy are reinvested in our Environmental Initiatives Fund to help reduce waste further and to set up other sustainability initiatives, such as funding the replacement of disposables with crockery at some food outlets.
To see the impact you can have by switching to a reusable cup, visit this handy impact calculator from KeepCup.
Latte Levy Poster