Ireland’s first single-use plastic free café, the Bio Green Café on the UCC campus, has achieved European recognition in its first year of operation as it reduced waste by 95% and saved 112,000 pieces of disposable items.
Opened in September 2018 by the UCC Green Campus Committee in collaboration with KSG, the university’s contracted food service provider, the Bio Green Café has won an entry into the EU’s European Business Awards for the Environment, which will take place in Vienna in autumn 2020. The latest accolade follows from the 2019 Repak Pakman Award for Innovation In Waste Resource Products or Service, awarded to UCC and KSG for the Bio Green Café last October.
The Bio Green Café was also a contributing factor to UCC being ranked the number one university in the world for Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) under University Sustainable Consumption and Production in the Times Higher Education Impact Ranking 2019. UCC also rated fourth globally from 360 universities in the STARS program rating on sustainable food and beverage in a University. The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) is a global sustainability standard created for higher education entities.
In the first 12 months of operation, the Bio Green Café saw over 112,000 pieces of disposable items avoided and waste kilos reduced by 95%. The reduction included saving over 33,000 disposable cups and over 35,000 sauce sachets.
The Bio Green Café was developed as a real-life experiment into how a catering service could be redesigned to eliminate single-use plastics. The scalability and replicability of the Bio Green Café project means that the potential environmental benefit for the university is significant.
Parts of the redesign have already been scaled up across the university and the removal of single-use plastic and disposables is actively underway across the UCC campus.
Michael Gleeson, Chief Executive of KSG Catering, said: “We’re very impressed to see that in such a short time our actions have contributed in some measure towards environmental change. Customer reaction has been overwhelmingly positive with many engaged in reducing or eliminating plastic and disposables from their dining habits whenever possible. We are hugely encouraged by the partnership and reaction in UCC and we look forward to rolling these initiatives out in more of our outlets in the coming months and years.”