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Cambridge businesses behind move to become sustainable food capital


By Ben Comber


Young woman drinking coffee from disposable cup
Young woman drinking coffee from disposable cup

Free water fountains, ban on plastic coffee cups and new restaurant ratings proposed under eco-friendly policy

Cambridge could be on its way to becoming one of the UK’s most sustainable food cities.

There are ambitions to introduce a raft of new policies that could stop the use of disposable plastic coffee cups, introduce sustainable food ratings for city eateries, install drinking water fountains in city parks and plant more fruit trees.

The concept of a sustainable food policy for Cambridge is being put forward by the Green Party’s city councillor Oscar Gillespie and will be considered at a meeting this evening (April 19).

Ian Sandison, chief executive of Cambridge BID, a membership body that includes the retaillers in the city centre, said they would be behind the proposals. He said: “Cambridge BID supports any initiative to reduce the amount of avoidable plastic waste. We will actively encourage retailers and businesses to show their strong commitment to any proposed schemes.

“Many bars in Cambridge now offer free tap water ‘refills’ to encourage the reuse of bottles for drinking water. It is these small but significant steps which help to drive down plastic waste.”

Cambridge already has a bronze award from national body Sustainable Food Cities. Nine cities have a bronze rating and three have made it to silver.

Cllr Gillespie says Cambridge should be pushing for the gold, which is yet to be achieved.

Sam Dyer, Cambridge Sustainable Food (CSF) co-ordinator, said yesterday that the plan could be just the tip of the iceberg.

Cambridge Sustainable Food is now working with eight businesses in the city to help reduce their food waste.

She says a council sustainable food policy should be just as important as its environment and clean air plans.

“Food and housing are two of the most important requirements for people’s lives,” Sam told the Cambridge Independent.

“We’re already working in partnership with the council on many food issues and we have a large action plan under way.

“We really welcome the proposals and Cllr Gillespie’s motion will hopefully start a conversation about these issues. I think our action plan for sustainable food goes further than the items mentioned.

“We’re taking a broad view and it covers everything from food waste to food poverty.

“The Food Poverty Action Plan is for the whole of the city and we’re hoping it will be adopted by the council and other partners.”

Already eateries in the city are signing up to display their food sustainability rating awarded by CSF.

The ambition is for this to be displayed in the same way as a food hygiene rating.

Cllr Gillespie will propose that the council helps encourage uptake of this rating and that environment officers should enforce it.

Sam continued: “It would be great if the city council really got behind going for a silver rating. Under Sustainable Food Cities we have achieved bronze, and not many cities have done that.”



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