Accusations of Ram food waste made during ‘Go Green Week’
Workers at The Ram Bar have come forward claiming that the University-owned outlet has been throwing out food with general waste instead of using a sustainable disposal method.
According to the workers, as many as three deep metal trays of cooked chicken, chips, and other foods have been thrown out with general waste at the end of each working day. One of the workers claimed that “leftover food used to be taken home by staff or eaten during breaks on shifts” but a “university decision” was made “around Christmas time” to “ban” staff from eating leftovers and taking food home. Since then, they claimed, all food has been “disposed of unsustainably” and they were not aware of there being a food recycling option.
The Ram worker said the practice “went against the university ethos” which is “about being green.” They said: “We recycle cardboard and glass at the end of shifts so why let food go to waste?”
Another worker expressed their concern: “In the face of globally unprecedented levels of waste and pollution, [The Ram] definitely shouldn’t act as if this is business as usual. The university that owns this bar pretends as if it champions the clean and green, but you wouldn’t know that as a worker.”
“They have thousands of new students every year suffocating our campus with an influx of cash. They have the money but apparently can’t find a good food recycling programme, nor allow its casual workers to save food that is destined for the general waste bin.”
The claims came as the University hosted its ‘Go Green Week’ between 28 February and 4 March – a week of activities and events on the theme of sustainability, which included an event called ‘Put Waste in the Right Place’, and a presentation titled ‘Waste Innovation to help us to Net Zero.’
In response to the Ram workers’ claims about the kitchen’s leftover food going to general waste, Simon Law, Head of Service for Commercial Operations said: “We continually monitor recorded waste at all the outlets [on campus], in order to improve and address potential over production immediately. Since the beginning of the year, over production waste for the Ram Bar has been recorded at just 0.19 per cent – well within the accepted industry standard.
“Any food waste currently generated is disposed of through a University approved method – [this is] currently a method that converts it to energy. The University’s Environmental and Climate Emergency team are also exploring additional routes that would allow for compostable waste disposal.”
In response to the workers’ question of why staff are no longer allowed to eat on shift or take home the leftovers, Mr Law said: “Food at the outlets is produced to be consumed at the time of service, from a controlled, safe environment by qualified staff.
“Allowing food to be removed and consumed at a later time would not only breach the University’s food safety management plan but could also expose potentially serious health risks.”
In the same week Exeposé reached out to the University for a response, a worker at the Ram contacted Exeposé claiming a food waste bin had appeared in the kitchen which they had not seen before in their time working there.
They said: “It is suspicious that they changed the disposal system the same week that we spoke out on this issue.” The worker claimed the University had “pulled this together out of fear they were about to get exposed.”
According to the Ram workers, the outlet now has dedicated food waste bins from a company called Andigestion who collect the waste and turn it into green energy.
The Ram workers said they welcomed the University’s use of Andigestion’s services and said “ultimately the change speaks for their actual values.”
Exeposé spoke to a Catering and Sustainability Expert who said that sending food waste to Andigestion offers both environmental and financial benefits. They said: “One of the benefits of sending food to a digestion plant is the production of energy from the waste.
“It actually costs more to send food out with general waste than food recycling per tonne.”