UCSP catering
Sustainable Restaurant Association Food Made Good award 2022 (three stars)
In 2022, we again received a Three Star rating – the highest rating and a Michelin Star in terms of recognising sustainability – from the Sustainable Restaurant Association in the Food Made Good report.
"For such a large operation, sourcing two thirds of food from the South West of England is second to none. From sea salt to dairy, crisps to fresh flour, every corner of the University of Plymouth’s supply chain has been carefully considered to support local industries."
                                               – Food Made Good Rating Report 2021/22
We're creating a sustainable food culture that supports local, sustainable and Fairtrade produce and suppliers, transforming our catering into a model of sustainable catering.  
THE Impact Rankings SDG2 Zero Hunger 2021 Top 10

Recognised for food sustainability

Listed 19th of 442 institutions within this category, we have made concerted efforts over many years to reduce food waste while raising awareness of the food challenges facing local and global communities. 

Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2021: zero hunger

People & Planet 1st Award Class. University League 2021.
We aim to: 
  • Continue to work with local producers and suppliers to increase the scale of local produce on campus – reducing food miles.
  • Source ethical produce as a standard that protects wildlife and nature, source Fairtrade produce where available and promote seasonality.
  • Reduce food waste and packaging waste associated with catering and increase composting and recycling.
  • Continue to improve the availability of affordable, healthy and sustainable food in our food outlets and hospitality.
  • Promote and celebrate food through the diversity of our campus food outlets and food events. 
  • Support University and city-wide food initiatives.
Chicken sandwich - food

Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) 

In 2022 we were again awarded the top rating of three stars from the Sustainable Restaurant Association with a score of 81%. This takes into account our product sourcing, our commitments to reducing waste and environmental impacts, healthy eating and charity work. Wherever possible, we buy local produce, which reduces food miles and supports the local economy. We are continuing to reduce food waste and donate any food which is near its use by date to local charities. We also make our surplus food available to buy via Too Good to Go. We are constantly updating our menus to include seasonal produce and expand our variety of healthy meals, especially vegetarian and vegan options.

Our producers and suppliers

  • We promote the best of the West Country: almost 56% of our suppliers are based in Devon and Cornwall and 60% from the South West of England. View a map of our food suppliers.
  • Our Reservoir Café is a Vegetarian Society accredited outlet, and over 50% of our dishes across our cafes are vegetarian or vegan. All of our cafés provide vegetarian and vegan options and dietary requirements, as well as dairy-free alternative milks. Our seasonal fruit and vegetable supplier is based in Saltash and sources from the South West.
  • All our meat is grass-fed and British with our beef, pork and chicken coming from an Exeter family butcher. It is Red Tractor certified, with the majority being sourced from the South West.
  • Since 2015 we have been using a local fish supplier who sources produce from Plymouth and Brixham fish markets and is empowered to provide fish that is plentiful on the day and either MSC certified or from boats that are part of the Responsible Fishing Scheme. The boats are small day boats, and many of them are rod and line. This supports the local fishing industry, removes air miles and increases quality. By using a local supplier we are also able to inform customers what the fish is, which boat it was caught on and where it was landed.
  • Our fresh milk is from Trewithen Dairy in Cornwall. We have five milk pergals across the campus cafes which minimises plastics; one milk pergal saves seven single-use plastic bottles, allowing us to save over 1,870 two-litre bottles so far.
  • Our free-range eggs and bread are also sourced from Cornwall. Our artisan bakers, Rise Bakery and Westcounty Bakery, are based seven miles from campus, baking fresh sourdough and tiger bread loaves.
  • Building loyalty with our local suppliers is integral to our operations to provide transparency in the food and drink we serve. That’s why we include quality ingredients from Cornish sea salt to organic fresh flour, and more in our food preparation.
  • We stock fairtrade and organic coffee beans throughout our cafes.
  • As a member of TUCO, complying with their frameworks and ensuring sustainability is included in all tender specifications with a minimum weighting of 30%, including questions on, but not limited to: locality, freshness of produce, traceability and provenance. Additionally there is the use of the following standards for food procured and served on campus: Free Range, RSPCA Assured, Vegetarian Society, Red Tractor, MSC, Responsible Fishing Scheme and Fairtrade.

Reduce, reuse, recycle

  • As of January 2018, there has been a reduction in the use of almost 225,255 disposable cups since implementing our 20p discount (as of May 2023). To complement this, we also sell One Plymouth reusable cups, where a donation also goes to the National Marine Aquarium.
  • Leftover food is used for soups and stocks, while unusable food is collected and taken to the anaerobic digester at Langage Farm. Due to our food waste being carefully monitored and stock ordered in fresh every few days, there is very little near/on date food that is wasted. Any consumable food waste left is donated to Trevi House, a local women’s and children's refuge.
  • We have introduced the Too Good to Go app which focuses on selling food that would otherwise have been thrown out at the end of the day to try and reduce food waste as much as possible. To date we have saved 602 meals – equivalent to 1.5 tCO₂e (as of May 2023).
  • Underpinning the University’s commitment to sustainability, one of our new cafes is in a former shipping container within the Roland Levinsky Building, with seating in the building’s atrium, and is aptly named the Container.
  • Our refreshed Sustainable Food Plan 2020–25 confirms our continued commitment to sustainable and healthy food provision on campus. It aligns with Government guidelines for health and sustainable eating as detailed by the Good Food Guide and supports a number of key measures outline in Part One of the National Food Strategy. 

Use your reusable cup at our campus cafes 

Our goal is to reduce the number of disposables cups used and then disposed of on campus. It’s estimated that 2.5 billion paper coffee cups are being thrown away in the UK every year. That’s almost 5,000 a minute, or 7 million per day! One reusable cup will on average have completely paid for itself after around 50 uses. 

Cut waste, cut carbon, save money when you use a reusable cup at our campus cafes and get a 20p discount.
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Where can I refill my water bottle?

Help us reduce plastic waste and refill your water bottle at the following campus locations:
  • Drake’s Cafe
  • Roland Levinsky Building north stairs or east lift lobbies
  • Scott Building ground floor, west corridor
  • The House ground and first floor
  • Cookworthy ground floor and room 417
  • Library 1st floor newspaper room and 3rd floor room 312
  • John Bull Building.
  • UPSU Roof
  • UPSU The Hive
  • UPSU 1st floor advice centre
  • Smeaton 3rd floor, west wing
  • Rolle ground floor
  • Rolle Plaza Marquee
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Download our Campus map PDF showing places you can refill your water bottle for free.
Alternatively download the app ‘Refill’ to locate your nearest water fountain on campus (excluding library areas where staff/student pass is required).

Tamar Valley Food Hub collection point at Drake’s Café

Do you want to buy local food but not sure where to find it? 
Tamar Valley Food Hubs are providing a collection and home delivery service for locally produced food. Similar to a veg box scheme and online supermarket combined, it is designed to make buying local food easier for consumers. Go online to shop for local and sustainable products including seasonal fruit and vegetables, fresh bread, local cheese, other dairy, fish, meat, even local honey. Veg boxes are also available when there is enough stock to facilitate this.
Pick up hub: Drake’s Café
Collect your order between 3.30pm–3.45pm from the friendly team on Fridays
Don’t forget to order by 9.30am on Wednesday. 
Tamar Valley Food Hubs is a non-profit making social enterprise made up of small-scale food and drink producers and their customers. By using us as part of your weekly shop, you will be directly supporting small producers and benefiting your community.

Sustainable Restaurant Association Reports

Please see our policies for the audit reports produced by the Sustainable Restaurant Association.

Community garden
Reservoir Cafe