EPFL Catering commits to reduce food waste

Treasure trove of wasted food © Foerster, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Treasure trove of wasted food © Foerster, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

As part of EPFL's commitment towards more sustainable catering, the Catering and Shops Unit (RESCO) has teamed up with several partners to prevent food from ending up in the bin.

While one third of the world's food production is wasted, the fight against food waste represents a real challenge for the entire EPFL community. Tons of food are lost along the production chain, resulting not only in the loss of food but also of all resources used to transform it. In fact, food waste accounts for 10% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.

A set of partners for a more sustainable catering

In order to fight against food waste on Campus, the Catering and Shops Unit has set up several tools upstream and downstream of the production chain of meals served to the EPFL community. In collaboration with the EPFL Integrative Food and Nutrition Center, a platform for the study of catering, food, water and culinary waste management, the carbon footprint of the Campus catering is regularly analysed. Data is collected in collaboration with several partners: Beelong to study the food purchases, Quantis to measure carbon footprints and Kitro to provide innovative food-waste solutions. Food purchases are analysed at one end of the food chain, while at the other end, Kitro's smart bins equipped with cameras and scales provide accurate monitoring of food waste. "The idea is to monitor the climatic impact of the entire EPFL food system in order to know exactly how and where to act" explains Bruno Rossignol, Head of RESCO. These analyses enable a quantitative and qualitative evaluation of food waste, in order to reduce the overproduction of meals, and to set goals to make the Campus catering system even more sustainable.

In collaboration with student associations

In order to reduce the waste of unsold food from large-scale distribution, RESCO supports and accompanies Castor Freegan, a student association fighting against the waste of surplus food products. The objective is to recover unsold foodstuffs to revalue the uneaten surplus. On the occasion of evenings organised by the association at the Rolex Learning Center, this action allows for the offer of 6,000 free vegetarian meals made from unsold food per year, i.e. 5 tons of food going to the plate rather than to the bin. This student initiative aims to respond to the issue of food waste by associating mass distribution and the academic world, demonstrating the student community desire to benefit from more sustainable and responsible catering.

Revalorizing unsold food on Campus

RESCO has also joined the "Too Good To Go" movement in order to reuse unsold food from the various catering outlets on Campus. Making this unsold food available allows food produced on Campus to be consumed and not wasted. For example, you can find the FoodLab Alpine, the Cyber Café SV, Arcadie and Migros EPFL on the "Too Good To Go" mobile application.

To avoid throwing away unsold ready-made meals, the food outlets operated by Novae (including Espace Copernic, l'Ornithorynque, l'Arcadie, Le Klee, Le Hodler, La Table de Vallotton) offer the "No Gaspi" formula. About an hour after the end of the lunch service, you can find the surplus food in a refrigerated display case in the restaurant and benefit from a 50% reduction. This action allows the revalorisation of unsold food and contributes to the reduction of food waste on the Campus.

Revolutionize the way we eat

These zero-waste measures are part of the EPFL 20-30 sustainable catering programme, which aims at revolutionising EPFL catering in order to offer a sustainable, local and seasonal culinary offer in all of the Campus' catering outlets.