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Food waste high among university challenges

Tackling food waste ranks as one of the most important sustainability priorities for universities and their catering managers, according to new research.

The report from The University Caterers Organisation (TUCO), produced by Footprint Intelligence, found that the vast majority of universities view food waste as a sustainability priority to rank alongside other key issues such as energy efficiency, carbon footprint and food provenance.

Environmental considerations and meeting regulatory requirements are the main incentives for action on food waste, over and above cost and pressure from customers.

The report identified a number of challenges universities face when attempting to cut food waste, with front of house and student engagement considered overwhelmingly the greatest challenge. A survey found that almost half of students regularly leave uneaten food on their plates even though 100% felt it was important to reduce food waste.

Universities were found to be taking innovative approaches to reducing food waste including using apps that allow students to provide feedback on meals and displaying bags of sugar that demonstrate the volume of food being wasted.

The report also found support among 74% of catering managers for more regulation in England and Wales to drive further action on food waste.