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Ireland’s First Plastic Free Café at University College Cork

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Ireland’s First Plastic Free Café at University College Cork

Ireland’s First Plastic Free Café at University College Cork
September 27
09:50 2018

Following the successful introduction of the ‘University Farm’ initiative in 2016, KSG Catering is once again partnering with UCC on sustainability leadership and together they have launched Ireland’s first plastic free café. Located on the UCC campus in the Biosciences Institute the ‘Bio Green Café’ was refurbished in August and the café has officially opened as Ireland’s first plastic free café. 

KSG in collaboration with UCC has installed and implemented a number of innovative sustainability practices for the café operation as part of this pilot project. In light of the numerous environmental issues associated with single use plastic the goal of the project is to totally eliminate all variants of single use plastic in a UCC campus café.

KSG has partnered with the UCC Green Campus Committee and jointly a number of initiatives have been launched in the cafe. The transition away from single use plastics involves a number of different project strands:

Water & Soft Drinks Plastic Bottles – all plastic drink bottles have been removed from the café and they have been replaced with glass bottles and cans. 

Sauces and Sachets – all plastic sachets have been removed from the café and they have been replaced with small reusable crockery containers.

Disposable Cutlery –  no plastic cutlery is available in the café with traditional cutlery being the only available option.

Hot Beverages – hot beverages are served in ceramic mugs.

Snacks  – no plastic wrapped convenience snacks are available in the café – the available range focuses on fresh bakery goods, fruits and chocolate bars with traditional paper wrapping.                                                                                                                                                                                             

Take Away Options – the café promotes customers to use crockery for their meal, snack or drink but if customers request a take away option then the following charges apply – disposable cup (compostable) 10 cent, takeaway food container (compostable) 40 cent, deli bar wrapping 5 cent.

Keep Cup and Water – the café promotes and sells UCC Keep Cups and the café also has an integrated water fountain system with built in washing capability for students and staff to utilise.

Café Suppliers – fresh vegetables and produce are delivered daily from the University farm along with produce supplied by local producer Waterfall Farms in Curraheen – vegetables are delivered with no wrapping in long life containers which are returned to the supplier each day. Chicken, ham and cheese are sourced from suppliers in the English Market and these products are also delivered with no wrapping in reusable return containers.

Recycling & Waste Management – an extensive recycling and waste segregation area has been installed in the café and the station also contains an integrated digital scales. General and recyclable waste volumes have now been reduced by 95% on March and April activity levels.

Michael Gleeson, CEO of KSG, said: “It has been great to work on this project in collaboration with UCC and both students and staff have embraced the changes in a really positive way. It feels like we have made a significant step forward in turning things around and reducing plastic use on campus”.

Patrick O’ Shea, UCC President, said: “It was once said that that there was ‘a great future in plastics’. Now we know that a sustainable future must judiciously use renewable and sustainable resources. We are delighted to partner with KSG to develop the Bio Green Café for our students and staff, and as a model for a sustainable future for all.”

Professor John O’Halloran, Deputy President and Chair of the Green Campus Forum UCC, added: “UCC is delighted to be part of this latest pioneering initiative on removing plastic from our restaurants at University College Cork. Our partnership with KSG has been both transformative and critical in working with our students and staff in advancing sustainability, one of our key values.”

Customer feedback will continue to be monitored over the coming months and KSG and UCC will assess the possibility of extending the initiative across the campus in 2019. KSG and UCC are also aiming to encourage environmental awareness and to change behaviours across the campus.

KSG is a leading provider of catering and hospitality services to organisations in the private and public sector. KSG Dining Ltd, the parent group, is owned by DCC Group Plc, the Hogan family and Michael Gleeson. The company had food and beverage turnover of €60 million in the year ended March 2017 with a profit of €1.35 million. The company employs 1,150 people and operates in 110 locations around Ireland.


Pictured (left to right): Alan Hayes, Student Union President; Patrick O’ Shea, UCC President; Michael Gleeson, CEO of KSG; and Faye Mercy, Comms Student Union, UCC.

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