UCSP catering
In 2024, we again received a three-star rating – the highest result and a Michelin star in terms of recognising sustainability – from The Sustainable Restaurant Association in the Food Made Good Standard.
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. 
Food Made Good 2024 logo

The University of Plymouth first took the Food Made Good Standard in 2014 and has repeatedly impressed our team with their consistently high score ever since. Feeding people every day is a big responsibility, so it’s great to see universities deliberately providing healthy, nutritious options. At the University of Plymouth, menus show the carbon impact of each dish, too, empowering people to make informed choices about their food. We also love their motto – “local, sustainable, fresh” – and their work with the Sound Fish Project Plymouth, which helps to inform businesses and customers about sustainable species from the local area. Well done for keeping up the momentum and making sustainability a part of ongoing operations!

Juliane Caillouette Noble, Managing Director of The Sustainable Restaurant Association
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.

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.
Fairtrade University
In 2024 the University of Plymouth achieved 2 out of 3 stars for our Fairtrade Accreditation. This commitment involves advocating for fair prices, improving working conditions, promoting local sustainability, and ensuring fairtrade terms for farmers and workers in our procurement processes and supplier partnerships.

The Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) 

In 2024 we were again awarded with the top three star rating from The Sustainable Restaurant Association with a score of 78%. This means that the University of Plymouth has been awarded the top rating from The SRA for 10 years. A fantastic achievement and one that we have worked hard to achieve and retain. The award is the only 360-degree, holistic sustainability accreditation for food and beverage businesses available, and is recognised worldwide. It assesses behaviour, measures action, celebrates progress and provides a roadmap toward further improvement. It looks at businesses' product sourcing, commitments to reducing waste and environmental impacts, healthy eating and charity work.
Chicken sandwich - food

Our producers and suppliers

  • We promote the best of the West Country: 75% of our suppliers are based in 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 six 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 at Westcounty Bakery, are based seven miles from campus, baking fresh malted 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 of 251,783 disposable cups since implementing our 20p discount (as of the end of June 2024). This figure doesn’t include those customers who choose to drink in our cafes on campus, which are served in China cups. To complement this, we also sell One Plymouth reusable cups, where a donation also goes to the Ocean Conservation Trust.
  • 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.


  • Underpinning the University’s commitment to sustainability, one of our 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. 

Too Good to Go

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 826 meals – equivalent to 2.23 tCO₂e (as of end of June 2024).

Carbon emission labelling on menus 

We have added the carbon impact of our dishes on many of our menus to enable customers to make choices that are better for the planet. We understand that what we eat can have a big impact on the environment, with food production estimated to account for a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. 
The carbon footprint figure was created using TUCO's innovative greenhouse gas footprint calculator. The calculator allows us to select ingredients, insert the relevant quantities and select where the product is sourced from. It looks at forms of transportation, energy consumption and direct emission factors to calculate the total greenhouse gases and the emissions per serving in kilograms.

We display the amount of greenhouse gases next to each item on the menu in kilograms per serving. 
You can find the carbon emission labels next to certain items on our menus in the following cafes on campus: 
We are working hard behind the scenes to update more items on our menus.

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.
Ditch the disposables coffee cup graphic for feature panel
Ditch the disposables graphic image
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).

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

Pay it forward

Purchase a meal or drink for someone in Drake's Kitchen and leave a message on the 'Pay it Forward' board.
Anyone can redeem these items by collecting a voucher from the board and handing it to a member of our friendly team.
Pay it forward notice board in Drake's Kitchen

Tamar Valley Food Hub collection point near the Reservoir 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: near the Reservoir Café.
Collect your order between 15:30–15.45 from the friendly team on Fridays.
Don’t forget to place your order between 18:00 on Friday and 09:30 on Wednesday for collection on campus on Friday afternoon.
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.