University unveils Container Café as part of commitment to campus sustainability

The University of Plymouth has extended its commitment to sustainable food and reducing its environmental impact with the launch of a new catering operation on its main campus.

The Container Café is based in a former shipping container within the Roland Levinsky Building, and – in line with current Covid-19 restrictions – is currently open for takeaway orders and hospitality food packages and proving popular with staff and students.

Ultimately, it will have up to 50 seats and tables and also be open to members of the public who may be visiting exhibitions and events in the Roland Levinsky Gallery, or film screenings in the Jill Craigie Cinema.

The University already boasts the highest possible Three Star rating from the Sustainable Restaurant Association and was named as one of their top 20 sustainable businesses in 2019.

The Container Café aims to build on that, with all of its food being hand-made on site and its produce being sourced from local suppliers to reduce food miles.

That includes tea and coffee from award-winning firm Owens Coffee and cold drinks from Luscombe Organic Drinks and Frobishers, all based in Devon, as well as milk with reusable bottles from Trewithen Dairy and bread from Baker Tom’s, both companies based in Cornwall.

The café will also be using a milk pergal to minimise the need for plastic bottles and offering minimal single-use plastic, while all packaging and napkins are made from sustainable plant-based or recycled materials and supplied by Bristol-based Planglow.

Even the café’s furniture has been produced locally by Cornwall-based sustainable furniture company MARK, through a collaboration with the University’s own BA (Hons) Interior Design students.

The café, as with all those on the University campus, is operated by subsidiary company University Commercial Services Plymouth Ltd. Sarah Patten, Hospitality Manager at UCSP, said:

“The Container Café is an exciting addition to the campus and perfectly complements our existing catering provision. As an organisation, we take great pride in selling quality and sustainably-sourced services and products to increasingly informed customers and are also proud to use local companies for the majority of our supplies. It will also serve as the new collection point for our Hospitality Shop, which was established at the beginning of the first lockdown in March and enables customers across campus to order food boxes and other food supplies.”

The University is recognised internationally as a leader in sustainability within higher education, and has consistently earned awards for its teaching and learning, research and campus operations.

It is constantly developing initiatives to reduce its impact on the environment and, through its Sustainable Earth Institute and International Marine Litter Research Unit among others, aims to influence societal change across a range of sectors and organisations.

Dr Samantha Davies, Sustainability Manager at the University, said:

“Sustainability is at the heart of everything we do, and an integral part of our University Strategy for the next decade and beyond. We have world-leading researchers in the sector, and are always looking for ways to harness their expertise to benefit what we are doing on our campus. This is emphasised through our commitments to sustainable food, and reducing our energy consumption and waste, and the Container Café showcases that to both the University and wider community.”

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