Sustainability policy

Our obligations and commercial commitments


Catering Services mission:

We provide Catering excellence in value, quality, and customer experience, investing in skilled professionals to deliver an ethical and agile service.

Catering Services vision:

Our vision is ‘the right products in the right places at the right times.’ By 2025 we will play a key role in campus experience, offering a range of value for money, interesting and outstanding products in a variety of destinations. Everything we do will be based on catering excellence and sustainable practices. 

This policy aims to align with the University strategy and wider commitments, including life-long knowledge and healthy eating habits for all, health initiatives from sport, medical and research colleagues and boosting local economy and support local businesses.   

The purpose of the policy is to set out the Catering Departments’ standards and aspirations for sustainable procurement and service of food across its catering outlets. 


Catering areas to which this policy applies include city centre campus, Ness Gardens and Leahurst. These services include:

  • Delivered To You Services (delivered catering to internal departments)
  • Bars
  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Event Catering

Sustainability standards are also embedded in tenders and contracts with external suppliers, such as the TUCO Catering Framework 

Working in partnerships both locally and globally, the University will address the UN Sustainable Development Goals, harnessing our strengths in research and education to drive forward the solutions and cultural change needed to move to a sustainable future. 

As part of its broader strategy, the University has made a commitment to ‘tackling the challenges of the UN Sustainable Development Goals both at home and abroad’. 

In January 2020 the University formalised its commitment to the UN SDGs by signing the global higher education sector’s SDG Accord in partnership with the Liverpool Guild of Students. By signing the SDG Accord the University has pledged to put the SDGs at the heart of all of its activities. To achieve this we will embed the UN SDGs as a unifying framework across the whole of the University. 

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), particularly relevant to this policy are:

Our Four Pillars:

Our ambitions are focused on four pillars linked to the UN SDGs. 

1. Health & Nutrition

This pillar links to Goal 3, Good Health & Wellbeing - ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.  

We will offer: 

  • Food that offers a healthy diet providing essential nutrition: fluid, protein, vitamins, fibre and food energy.
  • Prepared food that uses 100% fresh ingredients in both the Vine Court Restaurant and The Guild Courtyard & Sphinx*.
  • Use of appropriate seasonal fruit and vegetables.
  • Vegetarian options that make up 50% of menu items in both the Vine Court Restaurant and The Guild Courtyard & Sphinx.
* Defined as food-stuffs that are delivered fresh, are delivered packaged but were fresh when packaged, or delivered frozen but were fresh when frozen.

2. Social Responsibility

This pillar links to Goal 12, Responsible Consumption and Produce - ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns; Goal 14, Life Below Water, conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development; and Goal 15, Life on Land, protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.

We procure food sustainably and ethically by:

  • Using nominated suppliers regulated through ongoing membership of TUCO (The University Caterers Organisation). 
  • Where possible we will use local suppliers, with local defined as within a 50 mile radius. Producers from further away permitted when no local equivalent can be found, or dependant on the product required.
  • Using local, seasonally available ingredients as standard to minimise energy used in production, transport, and storage.
  • Prepare food daily using fresh ingredients by our chefs on-site at each restaurant.
  • Excluding fish species identified as most at risk by the Marine Conservation Society and choose fish only from sustainable sources such as those accredited by the Marine Stewardship Council. 
  • Purchase food from Red Tractor farming systems that minimise harm to the environment and enhance animal welfare. 
  • Only purchase coffee and teas from those suppliers with Fairtrade or Rainforest Alliance accreditation. 
  • All catering outlets provide hot and cold tap water for direct consumption. 
  • All outlets provide discount for customers who use “keep cups”. 

We are supporting the University's target to reduce our waste by 50% by 2025 by:

  • Sending all waste oil to Ollecco, from VG&M Waterhouse Cafe, Vine Court Restaurant and Guild Food Court, which is used to create high quality biofuels for transport.
  • End of date or best before products are sold at reduced prices or sent to the onsite student food pantry. 
  • Providing biodegradable take-away containers, cups and cutlery products in all food outlets. 
  • Providing reusable plates, cups and cutlery with our delivered catering services. 
  • Using large multi-portion sauce bottles, instead of plastic individual sauce sachets. 
  • Working with suppliers to reduce packaging at source, and ensure that any essential packaging is recyclable.

3. Value for money

This pillar links to Goal 2 - End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.

We ensure that:

  • There is a range of catering services and food options that suit a variety of stakeholders and uses, and are appropriately priced to suit the budget of students, staff and visitors.
  • Where appropriate and safe, we sell at reduced prices or send unwanted food to the onsite student food pantry or to charitable organisations. 

4. Knowledge

This pillar links to Goal 4, Quality Education, ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

We ensure that we:

  • Raise awareness to our staff of relevant environmental issues through appropriate training, via induction programs and in continuing professional development. 
  • Have an open dialogue with customers about the social effects of purchases and ensure the staff and student community can provide regular feedback. 
  • Communicate at the point of purchase, via social media and on our website about certifications and provenance of products. 
  • Build responsibility for the management of the policy into the job descriptions of all catering staff. 
  • Encourage departmental staff to use lifecycle costing during procurement decisions.

Measurement & Reporting

  • The policy will be reviewed annually whereby the scope and objectives may be updated. 
  • The pillars and action plan will be reported annually to the University’s senior leadership, via the Sustainability Board.   
  • An action plan is included (appendix 1) that outlines key areas of development for Catering Services.  
  • The action plan is relevant to the 2023/2024 academic year. 

Appendix 1

Action plan

Academic Year 2023 - 2024

Actions to be completed during and by end of 2023 – 2024 academic year



Progress Semester 1 2022/2023 Academic Year  

Review sustainable food accreditations and develop a plan to achieve status in agreed accreditation 


Adoption of procurement from suppliers that meet the approved and agreed animal welfare standard, and agreed accreditation introduced in the 2024/2025 academic year 

Review Sustainable Restaurant Association & Soil Association, RSPCA Assured programmes (MW, CM) 

Review reusable practices and options for both food and drinks, to work towards a marketing programme for the elimination of single use drinks cups which account for 95% of all sales  

Increase the % of keep cup usage across all cafés from 5% to 20% of all sales   

Develop campaign for the promotion of sales of keep cups 


Promote the use of crockery for stay in hot drink purchases, trial in L&SJ 


To monitor waste in all outlets and to prioritise the top steps in the waste hierarchy, including prevention, re-use and recycling, and develop better processes and data to understand the sources of our food waste 

To have a baseline figure of waste and adopt a subsequent target for reduction for the 2024/2025 academic year 

VGM, Ness, Leahurst have adopted use of food waste bins.  


Data to be reviewed end of semester 1 


Review Guardians of Grub accreditation  

Investigate alternative options and understand the biodegradable nature of products currently used, and where these can be appropriately sent to waste and/or recycled 

To have a baseline figure of products used, and adopt suitable alternatives for the 2024/2025 academic year 

Test alternative to all disposables in Law, removing stirrers, sugar sachets etc.  

Develop our central production unit (CPU) by creating and delivering more fresh produce for our cafe portfolio 

Chemistry, Life Sciences & Law Cafes sandwich and salad offer are all produced by the CPU 

Transition to all homemade for Chemistry, Life Sciences & Law & Guild  


Version Number 1
Document Status New policy
Effective Date June 2023
Review Period June 2024
Responsible Department Facilities, Residential & Catering Services
Policy Author Marcus Wilson, Head of Catering & Events, Facilities, Residential & Catering Services
Matthew Clough, Director, Catering Services, Ness Botanic Garden & Residential Services


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