Sustainable food

Food production accounts for 25% of total global greenhouse emissions and is the leading cause of biodiversity loss. The food we consume affects biodiversity loss, deforestation, carbon emissions, climate change, water scarcity and water pollution. Oxford research shows that the most effective way to reduce the climate impact of our diet is to consume less meat and dairy and eat more plant-based foods.

We have already acted to reduce the environmental impact of catering at the University. Half of the meals available at most University outlets are vegetarian or vegan, and all outlets under the main University catering contract have a sustainability certification.

Did you know?

The Sustainable Restaurant Association awarded the University’s hospitality service ‘Occasions’ the highest possible level – three stars – and all of our ‘Beyond Ordinary’ cafes have been awarded two out of three stars. For further information visit the sustainable catering page on the Estates Services website.


What we are doing

  • Report the biodiversity and carbon impact of our food on an annual basis.
  • Develop an action plan to significantly reduce these impacts by 2030.
  • Make all food at University catered events vegan or vegetarian by default, with meat and fish available on demand.
  • End the use of bottled water and ensure tap water is freely available to all staff, students and visitors.
  • Use an externally verified certification scheme to assess the sustainability credentials of the food offered at the University. This will encompass local and ethical sourcing, food waste, waste packaging and workers’ rights.

Oxford is a Fairtrade University, along with a number of colleges, after securing accreditation under the Fairtrade University and College Award Scheme. It means we help to ensure the people who produce the University’s food and drink get a fair cut of the proceeds. It also sets the University challenging goals that will take several years to achieve.

The first colleges to receive accreditation are Wadham, Keble, Lady Margaret Hall, University College, Christ Church and Queen’s. Further colleges and other parts of the University will have the opportunity to get involved over time.

A wider range of Fairtrade goods are now available in University outlets, with Fairtrade coffee and tea as default. Look out for the Fairtrade labels!

Visit the Fairtrade website to find out more about fair trade and why it's important.

University outlets work with Olio to prevent food waste as much as possible. Find out about the Olio and Too Good to Go apps and how you can use them to help prevent food waste.

Food waste that is not rescued is sent to Anaerobic Digestion creating energy and soil improver.

We encourage and support our Green Impact teams to develop their own edible gardens across the University.