Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability

York Conferences is a subsidiary company of the University of York. All our profits go back into the University, funding developments in facilities, research and education.

Sustainable principles underpin the University of York’s £500 million campus expansion, It is a visionary development featuring quality building in each of which we aspire to achieve an “Excellent” BREEAM rating, with a minimum of “very good”. The 117-hectare expansion on the eastern edge includes measures to ensure more efficient use of energy and water, and the further reduction, reuse and recycling of waste. The University is also developing a combined heat and power plant, as well as investigating the feasibility of using wind power, to meet the energy needs of the entire campus.

Click here to view our Green List

York Conferences are proud to have won Gold in the Green Impact Awards for two years running.

The Green Impact campaign is an esteemed environmental scheme run by the National Union of Students (NUS), which recognises the extraordinary work of our employees and the effect they’ve had on decreasing the environmental footprint of the University of York.

Wildlife and Biodiversity

A key characteristic of the University of York is our lakeside campuses that are home to an abundance of wildlife. The evolving landscape is designed not only to provide a beautiful and tranquil environment for staff, students and visitors, but a habitat capable of supporting an increasingly diverse range of animals and plants. Our projects include owl nesting boxes, bug hotels, tern rafts, sand martin nesting boxes, a wildlife hide, bee garden and wildflower meadow.

Sustainable Travel

The University of York is a very popular place to visit. We have over 15,000 students, 3,500 staff and over 37,000 conference guests coming to campus each year. The potential implications for congestion and traffic pollution are obvious. We have excellent public transport links to and from the campus and a free University bus to take staff, students and visitors around campus. Our Travel and Transport team are happy to work with our organisers to suggest the most sustainable transport options for your event including discounted bus tickets.

Fair Trade and Procurement

It is not just how we conduct our core business of research and teaching that makes a difference. The way we procure goods and services and the way we invest our funds can also have a significant impact on our local community and the wider world.


All University restaurants and cafes serve Fairtrade or Rainforest Alliance tea and coffee as standard.

Food Procurement

With a large number of restaurants, food and drink outlets and catering facilities, the University has an obligation to purchase, prepare, delivery food and dispose of waste as responsibly as it can.

Here are some examples of how we do this:

  • our restaurants and cafes offer a range of products based on raw materials from ethical and sustainable sources
  • all fresh eggs are “Lion Branded” free range
  • to keep road miles to a minimum we purchase most of our raw materials from suppliers within the Yorkshire and Humberside region who deliver in crates to cut down on packaging. Our meat supplier is in Strensall, just 9 miles from the University
  • most of our meat comes fresh from Strensall, using suppliers who demonstrate the highest standards of animal welfare
  • our fish comes from suppliers who comply with the Food and Agriculture Organisation Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. We do not purchase endangered species e.g. Bluefin Tuna
  • we source good quality products from local artisan suppliers thereby supporting the local economy
  • tap water is available in most outlets

In line with the University’s Sustainable Development Policy, we strive to minimise the amount of waste (particularly that sent to landfill) and any food waste we product is taken to a waste treatment site for in-vessel composting, that generates both electricity (through gas given off) and compost. By liaising closely with our conference organisers concerning their requirements and obtaining accurate number, our catering team are able to order and prepare food accordingly, therefore minimising food waste.

Recycling vs landfill

The University is consistently recycling and composting over 60% of its waste, with the majority of the remaining waste being used to create energy through refuse derived fuel, resulting in less than 1% of waste actually ending up in landfill.

In line with the University’s Sustainable Development Policy, York Conferences aims to minimise the amount of waste we send to landfill whilst balancing customer demand for convenience packaging and disposables for food and beverages ‘on the go’.

As part of commercial services within the University, we work alongside the other departments to ensure this.

NISA on site
  • Cardboard and plastic outer packaging from deliveries accounts for the majority of waste generated by our stores. These are separated, saved, compacted and recycled.
All our bars
  • All glass bottles are separated from other waste and recycled as part of the University’s glass recycling scheme.
  • Cardboard and plastic outer packaging waste is recycled.
  • As far as reasonably practicable, we aim to minimise the use of disposable glasses for the service of drinks. However, for safety reasons and in line with risk assessments, disposable glasses are used for student events to minimise the risk of cuts and injuries from glass.
All our catering outlets
  • Glass, cans, cardboard and plastic packaging generated from production kitchen activities is separated and recycled as part of the University’s recycling scheme.
  • Working in conjunction with the Student Union’s Environment Officers, we are supporting the Lug a Mug initiative that will be introduced for autumn term 2007.
  • Hot beverages – To meet customer needs and demands we offer a choice of mugs for drinking in and disposable cups for takeaway service. In outlets with no dishwashing facilities we have no option but to serve hot beverages in disposable cups although we are looking into introducing an initiative whereby customers who are based in the building may be able to purchase hot beverages from us using their own mugs.

We have carefully selected the disposable cup used in our catering outlets. The cup has excellent thermal properties, which negates the need for customers to either take 2 cups / additional serviettes to prevent heat transfer. The cup has a 90% paper content, no graphics or branding (i.e. no ink content) which means that the speed of degradation in landfill is higher than foam or plastic disposables.

These Waste Management Procedures form part of the Universities Environmental Management Policy prepared in accordance with ISO 14001.

Environmental Management best practice requires that the University applies strategies that cause the least impact to the environment. The application of the waste management hierarchy identifies best practice as waste prevention, re-use, recycling and finally disposal as a last resort.

Waste minimisation includes-
  • Product substitution
  • Process modification
  • Reclamation
  • Redistribution

Initial waste management strategies concentrated on recycling and recovery, however recent changes have seen efforts being applied by Waste Management agencies to reduce waste at the earliest opportunity.

In order to reduce waste by re-use it is necessary to provide a means for identifying items that can be re-used, where they are and where they can be transferred. Staff are encouraged to advertise redundant items within the University to facilitate re-use. There are a number of community re-use schemes in York that can provide support to the University for the re-use of redundant items.

Excellent performances have already been achieved in the area of recycling on Campus. Improvements will continue to be developed through partnership with City of York Council, and involvement by student and staff representatives.

Waste disposal and recycling points are located across campus for use by all staff and students. Sites are located in academic, catering and residential areas.

to and from the residential recycle bays to the contractor collection points as and when required.

In the York Conferences office itself, we recycle all paper, glass, cardboard and plastic. Although a paperless office is not practicable, we avoid printing unnecessarily and have green issues on our team brief agenda monthly to continually improve our waste management.

The University’s procurement strategy places considerable emphasis on sustainability and environmental impact. Whole life costing techniques are employed to ascertain the true costs of ownership, including maintenance and disposal costs, as part of the appraisal of major purchases. Supplier appraisal for University and NEUPG Consortium framework agreements explores the environmental credentials of prospective suppliers, as well as wider issues of corporate social responsibility and legislative compliance.

As a major consumer of paper and related stationery items, the University has taken considerable pains to select a supplier with strong environmental policies and promotes the use of 100% recycled paper, in line with RAY (Recycling Action Yorkshire) and OGC guidelines.

York Conferences is a subsiduary company of The University of York and therefore align ourselves with the University’s equality and diversity policy outlined below.

The University of York values the diversity of its members and is committed to the creation of a positive environment which is fair, welcoming and inclusive where:

  • everyone is treated with dignity and respect
  • harassment and bullying are unacceptable;

This commitment is stated in our Policies and implemented through the Code of Practice on Harassment which applies to staff, students and visitors.

For further information on the University’s strategies and policies please visit

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