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LSE Bankside's Food Waste Action: 34% Reduction during Action Week

By StudentGuest 04 May 2024

Food waste is a pressing global issue, contributing to 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. LSE Bankside House has taken bold steps to tackle this challenge head-on since partnering with Winnow in October 2022. The team is tackling waste from two main sources: before and after it reaches the students. Pre-consumer is surplus food during preparation or in storage. Post-consumer or plate waste is the leftovers on diners plates which then gets discarded. 

LSE Bankside focuses on encouraging students to reduce their plate waste. They want students to understand that they can make a real difference in protecting the environment by wasting less food. Ana, the catering manager, notes that their efforts are working, as shown by a 23% drop in food waste since the start of the year. The team works to connect everyday actions to broader environmental issues, aiming to encourage students to adopt sustainable habits.

"Each September, we introduce new students to Winnow, explaining how it works and how they can help reduce food waste, this approach has paid off, with students getting on board right away and helping us cut food waste by 23% in just the first term."

Ana Martínez Badía, Residences Catering Manager, LSE 

The Winnow system addresses food waste at LSE Bankside by analysing and weighing leftovers students discard, sending the data to the team daily. To communicate these results with the students, Winnow uses posters featuring anthropomorphised food; happy faces signal a decrease in waste, while sad or neutral faces indicate an increase. Developed in collaboration with Winnow and LSE's Behavioural Science Department, this empathetic approach uses visual feedback to effectively engage students and staff, fostering an emotional connection that encourages a reduction in food waste.

In the lead up to Food Waste Action Week 2024, Winnow kept track of the waste data, updating Bankside House weekly on trends and the environmental impact. These updates were regularly updated into visuals for screens and posters. LSE's marketing team also got involved, working with student vloggers to make videos that resonate with other students, showing easy ways to lessen their impact on the environment.

The Food Waste Action Week 2024 at LSE Bankside House saw plate waste decrease by 34% from baseline. At the end of 2023, every meal led to 145 grams per cover (grams wasted per person per meal). By February 2024, this waste was already reduced to 112 grams/cover. Impressively, during the campaign this dropped further to 95 grams/cover

The Food Waste Action Week 2024 at LSE Bankside House was successful because it used clear communication to show students how they could reduce food waste. This approach, backed by the dedicated LSE team, effectively get students involved in making a difference. This experience suggests that other universities could achieve similar results by engaging their students with straightforward, impactful messages about sustainability.