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Green Impact

Each year we take part in the NUS Green Impact scheme in order to help monitor and reduce negative, and increase our positive environmental impact. The Green Impact ‘workbook’ provides Students’ Union’s with a set of criteria to work towards. It helps us to ensure our operations are maintained and improved, environmental sustainability is embedded in the Union’s ethos and helps to engage and bring together students and staff to collaborate on bringing about a sustainable future.

Union staff and officers are encouraging students to be more involved in this process so if you have any opinions, input and/or campaign suggestions to include in the process please contact our Democracy, Operations and Community Officer at

Water fountains

For years now the number of water fountains on campus have been slowly increasing with new ones being dotted around campus recently. We’re working with UCL and striving to continue to increase the number in places where there is need. Reusing water bottles to reduce plastic waste is of paramount importance to ensuring that what we do is sustainable. 

View a map of UCL water fountains and here’s a useful map of water fountains across London

Coffee cups

Our long-term objective for this campaign is that universities are ahead of the curve in stopping the routine use of disposable coffee cups. We want to create positive behaviours relating to reusable cups, which our members will take with them into their post-university life. The positive environmental impact of this work will be less carbon emissions, less litter and less waste to landfill.

In March 2018 NUS will launch a campaign across its affiliate members, in which each institution will be encouraged to sign up to the ambition of making using reusable cups, not disposable, the social norm within their institutions.  We envision that this to be a long-term process and that universities would take gradual steps to reduce their disposal cup usage over a number of years.

Here at Students’ Union UCL, we’ve been championing this cause for a number of years, offering a 10p discount to anyone who brings a reusable cup whwn they make a purchase in any of our cafes.

Waste food in cafes

We hold ourselves to high standards of freshness for the food we sell in our cafes. Unfortunately, this means there is a small amount of food that is thrown away if it’s not bought before it stops being its best or becomes out of date. We’re currently working on ensuring that this food can be used to benefit individuals that are less fortunate than us, such as the homeless.

Around a third of the food produced globally is wasted. At the same time, it is estimated that there are 795 million people who do not get enough to eat. In the UK alone, there are 2 million people estimated to be malnourished, and yet there is 15 million tonnes of food waste each year. 

Meat free incentives

Over the past few years, we have been addressing the environmental impact of a meat-heavy diet. We have aimed to popularise eating meat-free options at our own outlets. This started out as a campaign to remove all meat foods from our outlets on Mondays, however this has evolved from prohibiting meat, to incentivising the choice to go meat free and cause real, impactful behaviour change.

Our loyalty scheme means that every 9 items of vegetarian food bought on a Monday would mean a free item on the 10th visit. This campaign is now in final stages of development with our commercial and marketing teams. We have also greatly increased the diversity of our vegetarian and vegan range.


The Union is committed to promoting Fairtrade products across all its outlets and activities. In this section you can find out more information about the Fairtrade logo, what UCLU has done so far and what we hope to achieve in the future.

Fossil Free UCL

Constantly lobbying UCL to divest from Fossil Fuels and make their financial investments more ethical. We have worked with the group to campaign for UCL to divest and are continuously striving towards ensuring that the lobbying process continues. So far, we have convinced UCL about the issue at hand and they are actively looking into ways to resolve this.

Green Volunteering

Our Volunteering Services has lots of ways you can get involved in sustainability-focused volunteering. They’re linked with dozens of community organisations working to protect, celebrate and improve the environment. There are on-going vacancies as well as lots of one-off events you can sign up for, and you can get funding and support for your own projects too.

Plastic reduction

Together with our chosen supplier partners, Students’ Union UCL is taking steps to reduce our usage of plastics. You’ll notice that our bars and cafés now:

  • offer biodegradable forks instead of plastic
  • have fully compostable material for lunch boxes, pots and wraps
  • no longer put forks into our salads, but rather distribute them to customers if required at the till
  • have ditched straws in our bars

Have a look at how UCL is tackling the challenges of sustainability.