University Caterers Association strives for improved sustainability

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Reducing energy consumption and improving waste management for water and food are at the heart of an initiative by the University Caterers Association (TUCO) to improve their sustainability credentials.

The organisation will expand on its work with the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) and launch a co-branded programme to enable UK universities and colleges to put sustainability at the core of their catering operation.

As part of the agreement TUCO members will receive a discount on joining the SRA, and an ongoing reduction for the lifetime of their membership.

Mike Haslin, chief operating officer of TUCO, told the organisation’s annual conference in London: “Sustainability remains a hugely important issue for our members, and indeed the wider catering community.  As an organisation we strive to lead the way on finding innovative solutions to the wider challenges – our partnership with the SRA is a key part of this programme.

“It is important to recognise that the challenges faced by the higher education sector in meeting sustainability targets are entirely unique. In developing this unique accreditation model with the SRA we are helping to ensure there is a level playing field for higher education caterers which will not only support those looking to grow their CSR policies but highlight those already doing great work.”

Chair of TUCO, Julie Barker added: “Following the successful pilot of the scheme, during which we tested the relevancy of the criteria to university catering departments and the genuine impact the programme could have on meeting individual institutions sustainability targets, we are delighted to be announcing close links to the SRA on behalf of members.”

TUCO and the SRA announced in July 2014 that they had worked together to develop a University & College Catering Programme to help raise dining standards across the sector and meet increasing student demand for eating out that does not cost the earth.

The SRA rating was built and piloted with substantial support from Plymouth University and University of Brighton and has attracted very wide interest. A further 18 universities and colleges have joined the SRA in the last 12 months including; University of Manchester, University of Edinburgh, Aberystwyth University and St John’s College, Cambridge.

Both the University of Brighton and Plymouth University (pictured above) received the highest possible rating from the SRA – Three Stars. Darren Proctor, executive head chef, said:  “The ongoing support and advice we receive from our Sustainability Account Manager at the SRA is absolutely invaluable. Previously we were stabbing in the dark, now we know what we’re aiming at.”

The rating follows the format that the SRA has used successfully over the last five years, dubbed the Michelin Stars of Sustainability by The Sunday Times, to assess the business-wide operation of its 4,500 Member sites.

Mark Linehan, Managing Director of the SRA, said: “We believed that our programme would be well received by universities and colleges because it provides them not just with a holistic assessment of their whole operation, but also with dedicated ongoing support through our team of experts, to help them go further and do more.

“We are really pleased that TUCO has confirmed our model for its official sustainability programme, and together we are confident we can make a big impact and help the sector reach its potential.”

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