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Across the University, the catering service has been doing everything it can to reduce waste and encourage reuse and recycling practices. Here’s a taster of the exciting schemes going on:

Keep Cups

There has been major concern recently about the negative environmental impacts of disposable coffee cups, which are non-recyclable due to their mixed plastic and paper lining. The University Catering Service team has been solving this issue by selling high quality refillable cups to staff and students at a fantastically discounted rate. And even better, they offer a discount on hot drinks whenever the Keep Cups are used. In 2014-15 alone the scheme saved over 27,000 disposable cups – almost one saved for every student and staff member at the University!

The Keep Cups scheme has now also been adopted by a number of the Colleges including Churchill, Emmanuel, Christs, King's and Trinity. Most of the Colleges offer branded keepcups for sale, with a 10 or 15p discount on sales of hot drinks for those that use them.


It’s not just coffee cups that are reducing waste either – with ‘Vegware’ compostable packaging it’s now possible to eat at the University cafés and avoid the general waste bin entirely! Vegware products (which include sandwich boxes and wrappers, food and drinks containers and cutlery) are made from recycled or renewable plant-based materials rather than plastic. They can go straight into the food waste bin because they are all biodegradable. Over six months after the scheme was introduced, Vegware helped save 5.4 tonnes of carbon emissions, saved 2.6 tonnes of virgin materials, and saved 6.6 tonnes of waste to landfill!

Look out for the Vegware posters in each café to see exactly how the system works. 

Cooking Oil

Meanwhile the University Centre is giving its old oil a new life… by using it to power lorries! Every week the Centre produces around 100l of waste oil, which it sends off for reprocessing. The oil is heated, cleaned and filtered before being recycled as biodiesel. This renewable fuel’s carbon output is 90% lower than that of regular diesel. And as part of this partnership, the University Centre receives a discount on its next purchase of cooking oil – wins all round!