To us, food is more than just the fuel that gets you through the day – it is a way to change the world. We are an entirely student-owned company, and our unique ownership structure allows us to take a bold stance as a sustainability pioneer and driver of change.
Our aim is to make sustainable choices easy for everyone. We are continuously working to reduce our carbon footprint and cut down on waste, and we are offering more and more environmentally friendly vegan meals. In 2022, approximately 40 per cent of the meals we sold were vegan. In 2019, we made the environmental choice to cut beef from our menus entirely.
Our sustainability is not limited to food; it also extends to people. To ensure our responsible conduct positively impacts not only the environment, but student well-being and equality as well, we offer food at student prices. We take equality seriously, and you are welcome in our restaurants as you are.
And our sustainability work does not end there. We are continuously following world events, developing new sustainability practices and looking for new ways to make our food even more environmentally friendly.
The carbon footprint of our meals
We marked all our most environmentally friendly main dishes, sides and drinks with the Climate Choice label. Lunches consisting of Climate Choice menu items always have a carbon footprint of no more than 0.5 kg CO2e per meal, putting them in line with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5-degree goal. The average carbon footprint of a lunch in Finland is 1.4 kg CO2e. By enjoying our Climate Choice lunches, you can make sustainable choices easy.
We calculated the carbon footprints of our meals with the goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2025 and raising awareness of food’s climate impact. We print the carbon footprints of everything we offer in our menus, both online and in our restaurants, to make sustainable choices easier.
Our calculation methods are based on peer-reviewed studies. We took apart each and every one of our recipes and comprehensively assessed the climate impact of each ingredient, taking into account factors such as country of origin and carbon-footprint-related research data. We also actively update our carbon footprint information based on research data whenever we publish a new menu.
The Finnish restaurant sector produces 75–85 million kilograms of waste each year, and approximately one fifth of all restaurant food in Finland becomes waste. We want to do our part to reduce this amount, which is why we are actively taking measures to cut down on waste.
- We sell unsold food at a discount at the end of the day in our restaurants and through the ResQ app.
- We have set organic waste targets for each of our restaurants, which are tracked using specially installed organic waste scales.
- We use channels such as social media and the digital displays installed at our organic waste scales to communicate to our customers about waste sorting, the quantities of waste produced by leftovers and our goal to reduce organic waste.
- Some of our restaurants offer waste-grounds-free coffee.
- Rotating menus and further processing of ingredients improve our food planning, which in turn results in less waste.
- In the event our restaurants run out of certain foodstuffs, they can be replaced with other items.
You can also help reduce waste by only taking as much food as you intend to eat, eating according to the one plate model, recycling appropriately and buying our Leftover Lunches at the end of the day.
When we have unsold food left over from lunch, we sell it at a discount after lunchtime is over. Leftover Lunches are available at all UniCafe restaurants and come in 750 ml containers. You can also bring your own reusable container and get Leftover Lunches even cheaper. Available are warm lunch items, sides and salads from the side salad table.
Please note that student discounts are not available for Leftover Lunches, as they do not qualify for Kela’s meal subsidies. Leftover Lunch prices can be found here.
Some of our restaurants offer baguettes, bowls and other display cabinet products at a discount through the ResQ app. Unfortunately, student discounts are not available for products bought on ResQ.
The basis of our social responsibility is ensuring that human rights and employee rights are realised. We are also responsible for promoting the well-being and equality of students by facilitating healthy and affordable meals.
As a student-owned company, we listen closely to our customers and do our utmost to ensure the feedback and development suggestions we receive are heard. We opened the fully vegan Myöhä Café & Bar in Kaivopiha in October 2022 based on the feedback we received. We also promote equality by
- observing our non-discrimination and equality plan
- declaring all our spaces discrimination-free
- being a responsible and fair employer to our staff
- offering our staff the opportunity to develop and train to become the best professionals in the business
We also require far-reaching responsibility and sustainability from our partners. We expect our partners to be committed to human rights and doing business sustainably. We react quickly in the event we become aware of conduct that conflicts with our values occurring in our value chain.
Quality and environmental policy
Our restaurants observe the international ISO 9001 quality standard, which determines the requirements of our quality system. Observing the standard helps improve the quality of our operations and testifies to our excellent quality management. In addition to the quality standard, we also observe the ISO 14001 environmental management system standard, which supports sustainable development from the perspective of our ecological and financial goals.
We also pay close attention to responsibility and sustainability in our procurement criteria. For example:
- In our procurement, we take into account human rights, environmental impacts and the amount of waste produced.
- We actively follow world events and react to changes as fast as possible.
- In response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we no longer use ingredients of Russian origin, and we actively investigate our ingredient procurement chains for possible links to Russia.
- We use exclusively Finnish meat and poultry.
- We always prefer Finnish bakery products and ingredients according to season.
- We use organic and fair trade labelled products extensively. We are an eight-time winner of the Luomu SM competition’s Large Private Operator category.
We select sustainability agents from among our staff for each of our restaurants. They are responsible for assisting restaurant managers and shift managers by ensuring that practices related to responsibility and sustainability goals are carried out correctly.
In cooperation with
Food Industry Material Efficiency Commitment 2022-2026
UniCafe is committed to improving material efficiency in the food industry. The commitment’s goal is to further develop Finland’s circular economy. We are actively seeking ways to replace plastic in our disposable packaging and reduce food waste. Additionally, we facilitate plastic recycling and communicate the environmental impact of packaging to our customers.
UniCafe is committed to a voluntary green deal agreement aimed at reducing the consumption of plastic disposable drink cups and food packaging. We are committed to reducing the amount of plastic in our disposable packaging by 40 percent by 2026. In 2023, approximately two-thirds of the portion packs used in UniCafes are made from natural materials instead of plastic. The green deal agreement is part of the implementation of the EU’s plastic strategy.
Stairs to Organic
Stairs to Organic is a program designed for private and public food services that helps professional kitchens reach their organic targets as part of sustainable development activities. UniCafe has partaken in the Stairs to Organic program since 2013. We systematically increase the number of organic products in our restaurants, and nowadays, the selection covers about 200 products.
UniCafe has met the standards of the ISO 14001 environmental management certification as well as the ISO 9001:2008 certification for quality management systems. Here at Ylva, we follow the realisation of responsible operations with several different indicators and external auditing. Our partnerships include, for example, UN Global Compact and Bureau Veritas.
The Finnish Hospitality Association MaRa (Matkailu- ja Ravintolapalvelut, MaRa) is a lobbyist for employers and labour market association in the restaurant business. Their activities promote the operating conditions of the companies in the field as relates to the area of industrial politics and influences the development of the appeal and appreciation of the field.
UN Global Compact
We are committed to abiding by and promoting Global Compact’s ten principles of responsible business operations within the sectors of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. We report on our sustainability using the global “Communication on Progress” framework of the Global Compact.
FIBS is the leading corporate responsibility network in Finland. By participating in its operations, we are utilising our knowledge of trends, best practises and tools related to corporate responsibility. We are here to learn and come up with new ideas in order to promote responsible business operations.
Zero Accident Forum
Since 2007, UniCafe has been the first restaurant business to attend the Zero Accident Forum of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health. We learn from all accidents and close calls by going through the events with the personnel and making agreements about changing procedures. This is done in order to chart the risks included in our activities and to prevent accidents in the future.