July 1, 2016, by sustainablenottingham
Researching food waste on campus: final reflections
In a follow-up to his previous post, undergraduate James Strode reflects on his dissertation.
I’m a 3rd Year Geographer and have completed my dissertation on The University of Nottingham and food waste. I have undertaken an analysis of how waste is produced, managed and disposed of on University Park Campus alongside what staff and students think of the issue and the ways this issue can be improved.
Can I take this time to thank the staff and students of UoN who have helped me with my research. Together we have made a great team and I have been able to produce a dissertation which without them would be nowhere near as comprehensive.
What I found
Food waste is inevitable at an institution that caters for 30,000 students across many different platforms. However, it doesn’t need to be high, and something positive can be done with it. Students have a negative perspective of the University’s effort surrounding food waste – they do not know much about the management and deposition processes, and they have little idea of what they can do to improve as well as the benefits to having good practice.
What I have found is that although not perfect UoN don’t do a bad job when it comes to managing food waste. Chefs around campus have been challenged to reduce their waste and the food waste bins get taken to an anaerobic digestion plant and create biogas from this. The whole ‘Food Story’, as well as the food waste, is a positive one around UoN, but only a few recognise this.
To continue towards sustainability goals there is one clear thing the University needs to do: connect with the students. Too often a large proportion of students escape any form of sustainability education. Students need to be involved and support long term aims otherwise the goals will not be reached. In this case, chefs have been tasked with lowering food waste, why can’t students be tasked with it and be successful?
To get students involved a few changes can be made, for example using the bin successfully can be crucial – placing them in strategic locations and promoting it as a worthwhile exercise will help more food waste go into bins and thus be sustainably dealt with.
But that can’t be the end goal for UoN, with the technology and research within the University, surely we can obtain the biogas from food waste and feed this back into the University in some way. This has to be the end goal, however long it takes, because then we have a truly sustainable University that staff and students are playing their part in making.