January 12, 2016, by sustainablenottingham

Researching food waste on campus

Undergraduate James Strode shares the progress so far on his dissertation.

I’m a 3rd Year Geographer and my dissertation is focusing on The University of Nottingham and food waste. I am undertaking 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 ways this can all be improved (you can take part by completing this survey).

The project has sustainability at the heart of it and there has never been a time where sustainability has been more important – just look at the 147 nations coming together in Paris in December 2015 for COP21. And food is increasingly becoming a key part of sustainability and entering the public eye; Hugh’s War on Waste on BBC1 was a great example of this.

It is a niche idea, I know, but this topic has always been of interest to me since school. Now I have my chance to work on something I enjoy, at the University I study at, looking to create something new and have a positive impact.

Undergraduate students in cafe in Jubilee CampusAs my research comes to an end, it is clear food waste is low down on the sustainable agenda. But that’s not to say the University do not act. Actually, the University do some great things: the actual food waste is very low in real terms, it goes off to a local anaerobic digestion and creates biogas, they have started ‘A Week of Weighing’ once a month in order to measure it more accurately, and more than anything there seems a real drive from University staff to improve the situation.

It is also clear that the students at the University have an interest in this topic. I’ve been in contact with lots of students and the majority have got a negative view on food waste at the University. They don’t know where it goes, they don’t know how much is wasted, and they think the University does not care. But I know that is not true, and we need to combine staff and students in a real push to make this change in perception and practice.

There is a story about food that needs to be told. There is a story about where our food comes from and there is a story about what happens to our food once it goes into the bin. Aspects of the food story are positive at the University, but staff and students alike don’t know about it. That even includes myself – I thought I may uncover something shocking and secretive. The only secret I have found is that there are a lot of positives that very few people know about.

Posted in CateringStudentswaste