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UCL becomes first university to pilot food carbon tracking app for students

28th Mar 2024 - 07:00
UCL becomes first university to pilot food carbon tracking app for students
University College London (UCL) and its catering partner CH&CO rolled out a trial of the Reewild app, which helps their community to track and reduce their dietary carbon footprint and incentivises more sustainable choices.

In line with the university’s Sustainable Food Policy, over half of the food on offer at UCL through caterers CH&CO is vegetarian or vegan. All food made in-house has been carbon accounted and carbon labelled, providing staff and students with the information needed to make informed decisions.

Kit Nicholl, co-founder & chief operating officer at Reewild, commented: “We’re delighted to be working hand in glove with UCL and CH&CO to help drive greener behaviours and support their net zero carbon targets.

“This new partnership will give students unprecedented control over the climate footprint of the food they eat, whilst rewarding them for greener behaviours. Through collective action, we’re confident that the Reewild app can instigate the change we need to reduce our impact on the planet, one meal at a time.”

The Reewild app now adds an extra gear to this positive work, nudging students towards more sustainable options via a loyalty scheme that rewards them with free meals and coffees if they opt for plant-based options.

Through the app, students can also discover the climate impact of millions of products, enabling them to log the items they consume in their personal carbon footprint tracker, similar to successful calorie counting apps.

The aim is to remain below a pre-set Carbon Calorie Goal - a daily carbon budget calculated in line with international climate targets. Users receive recommendations for switches to greener products and are rewarded for improving their footprint, unlocking exclusive discounts and promotions from sustainable brand partners and freebies in UCL cafés.

Clare Clark, head of sustainability at CH&CO, said: “We are excited to trial Reewild at our outlets on UCL's campus. We work hard to offer sustainable, healthy and balanced choices that are also delicious. Our ultimate goal is to have the customers' first choice also be the most sustainable one on the menu and increasing engagement between our customers and the environmental impact of the food they eat is integral to that.”

According to a recent YouGov survey, 59% of people are making conscious decisions to live a low carbon lifestyle, with diet changes considered the single most effective lever to reduce individual footprints. The majority of shoppers (61%) feel they need more information to better inform their sustainable choices.

Jason Clarke, assistant sustainability director at UCL, added: “Whilst we are making significant operational progress in sustainability at UCL, we recognise the importance of empowering our community to make more sustainable choices, and our partnership with Reewild and CH&CO reflects this commitment. Through initiatives like this, we're fostering a culture of sustainability within our university.”

Written by
Edward Waddell