Cambridge colleges plan new low-carbon meals

Charles Bonfils-Duclos 6 February 2014

Colleges including King’s and Corpus Christi have put in place measures to reduce the carbon footprint of the meals which they offer to students.

This new initiative is part of the ambitious Cambridge Carbon Management Plan of 2010-’20, which aims to reduce carbon emissions by 34% at the end of the period, compared to the 2005-’06 academic year.

Part of the objective is to encourage students to choose options with the lowest carbon emission impact. A low-carbon meal uses products that are mainly seasonal and require minimal transport as well as packaging.

The objective of such a programme is twofold: reducing carbon emissions from both the production of the
food and its delivery. The Green and Charities Officer from Corpus Christi reported: “we source eggs, chicken and pork from local free-range producers, and have switched to receiving fewer, larger deliveries and to using reusable delivery
boxes in an effort to reduce the impact that our food miles have on the environment.”

A Green Officer from another college told The Cambridge Student: “The college offers a large number of meals per week, and as such the impact of even small improvements in the supply chain can result in a large change in our impact on the environment.”
The University has worked with local environmental organisations such as the Cambridge Carbon Footprint, Transition Cambridge and the University of Cambridge Environment & Energy Assistant in order to produce guidelines on low-carbon meals and how to identify them.

The University of Cambridge Colleges Low-Carbon Meals Scheme will further assist catering departments to identify low-carbon foods. King’s kitchens in particular will be moving to produce ‘low-carbon dishes’, which will be identified by a blue footprint.
In the UK, a fifth of each person’s annual carbon footprint comes from the food they eat. Tom, a first-year at St
John’s, endorsed the initiative  as a “significant and  important step in the process of reducing the University’s carbon footprint”.