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Environment, economy, society
Sustainability

The Kölner Studierendenwerk is geared toward an intact environment, which is the basis for economic, social and cultural development. The topic of "sustainability" finds its home with us in many places: from the new Werks-Bowl in the gastronomy to the BAföG e-files to the home office. You can find out which measures have already been adopted by our Sustainability Commission, how they are shaping up and what their current status are here on this page.

 

Successes

These are our successes on the way to more sustainability + outlook on what we are still working on.

 

Gastronomy

Gastronomy

Suppliers from the region

Measure: The distance from the supplier to the canteen should be as short as possible. Our suppliers from North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) make this possible. 40 of 75 suppliers are from NRW. Centralized purchasing can keep transport distances short and reduce environmentally harmful emissions.

Sustainability is more than organic food

Measure: We offer both employees and students the opportunity to further their education in the area of "sustainability". Students can learn new things about healthy and sustainable nutrition in cooking courses. And our employees are trained as energy managers, among other things. Training and continuing education at the Kölner Studierendenwerk are important to us because they allow us to invest in sustainability at the same time. We are always developing new ideas and setting ourselves important goals in order to be able to offer consistently sustainable gastronomy step by step. For example, in the past we have successfully reduced our electricity and water consumption, making our dishes more resource-efficient.

 

Expansion of self-service in the canteens

Measure: Self-service counters have been introduced in the Mensa Deutz as well as in the Mensa Zülpicher Straße, e.g. the traffic light counter on the EG Süd of the Mensa Zülpicher Straße. The menus are prepared and the students pay by themselves with their Mensa card. The switch to self-service makes it easier for you to go to the Mensa. You only have to wait in line once and not twice as usual (serving and paying for food). In addition, we can reduce our workload with such measures and therefore become more economical.

Current status: Due to the pandemic, the conversion of four additional dispensing points to self-service checkouts has not yet been fully implemented.

Saving electricity in canteens

Measure: Various measures are to be taken to save electricity. For example, an equipment list is to be created for the individual canteens, listing which equipment is switched on and when. Old equipment that could possibly be replaced with new equipment will also be recorded. As a trial operation for new electricity measures, the Mensa Lindenthal started in 2019: The lighting was converted to LED technology with motion detectors.

Current status: Power consumption is being checked. However, consumption data will not be comparable until full operation is resumed.

Reducing the amount of disposable packaging material

Measure: The packaging in the to-go menu in our gastronomy establishments is to be converted to reusable containers (deposit system).

Current status: The Werks-Bowl was launched in mid-November 2020. A total of 5,500 Mepal bowls were purchased to be put into circulation.

Note: For a deposit of 6 euros, you can borrow a bowl and take your food home in it. At your next visit to the Mensa, you can return the bowl or exchange it for a rinsed one with new food. The payment works with Mensa card.

Please note that the Werks-Bowl must not be heated in the microwave for more than 2 minutes at a maximum of 600 watts. Remember to remove the lid when you microwave it. Also, do not cut inside the bowl, as damaged or scratched Werks-Bowls will not be taken back.

The Mensa Zülpicher Straße offers a certified organic dish

Measure: Since the beginning of 2007, the Mensa Zülpicher Straße has offered a certified organic dish. This means that at least 95% of the ingredients for the dish must come from organic farming.

This agriculture: 

  • basically abstains from chemical-synthetic pesticides.
  • does not use mineral nitrogen fertilizers.
  • stands for species-appropriate animal husbandry.
  • protects ground, water and air.
  • helps to preserve biodiversity.
  • creates transparency in production and manufacturing.
  • offers safety through guidelines and controls.

The origin of the goods must be accurately documented as well as controlled by organic control numbers. Suppliers of organic products must also be certified. In this way, organic products can be traced back to the producer. Officially approved private inspection institutions inspect the entire operation at least once a year. The work of the inspection bodies, in turn, is controlled by the state.

Current status: Due to the pandemic, a reduced range of meals is currently offered in the Mensa Zülpicher Straße. Therefore, the organic dish is not being produced at the moment. As soon as the pandemic situation allows it, it will be added to the menu again.

The Werk offers vegan/ vegetarian dishes in the canteens

Measure: Since 2011, there has been a daily vegan and vegetarian dish in the Mensa Zülpicher Straße. Already in the first years, the number of vegetarian and vegan dishes sold in our refectories increased:

Current status: Due to the pandemic and the resulting massive drop in the number of meals, the Werk could not permanently offer vegetarian and vegan dishes at the same time. However, adjustments are being made in the meantime.

We contribute to the University of Cologne being a Fairtrade-University

The Fairtrade University seal has been awarded to universities since 2014 by TransFair e.V. Deutschland, which promotes fair trade according to specific criteria. At the University of Cologne, a steering group was established for this purpose in 2017, consisting of representatives of the Studierendenschaft (student body), the Studierendenwerks gastronomy department, and the university's central purchasing department. 

Since 2018, the University of Cologne also bears the title of "Fairtrade University". You can find more information about the University of Cologne here

The Studierendenwerk is part of the NEIS project

NEIS is a project of the consumer advice center of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), which is carried out in cooperation with universities at three locations in NRW. It is funded by the Ministry of the Environment, Agriculture, Nature Conservation and Consumer Protection of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Get more information and an overview of the events here

Student financing

Student financing

Implementation of e-files // Digital BAföG file

Measure: In recent years, approximately 14,000 applications for benefits under the BAföG, which are recorded using a computerized procedure, have been received annually at the Werk. The BAföG files are maintained with several, usually one-year, approval periods. Due to legal requirements, each approval period contains at least 50 pages of information. On average, 600 files are created per employee per year, 50 cases per month. Due to the possibility of delivery by e-mail and through the additional application portal BAföG-Digital, the applications as well as all correspondence outgoing from the applicants, including all attachments, must be printed out beforehand at Student Financing and added to the funding file. For more than a year, there has been a considerable increase in the number of printing tasks.

The implementation of a digital BAföG file would therefore save a considerable amount of paper. In addition, employees can access the e-files regardless of their location. This is an important contribution to enabling home offices and more mobile working.

Another advantage of the digital BAföG file is archiving. All employees in the student finance department can view and process the files; archiving and transporting them to a remote location and returning them on request is no longer necessary. This will eliminate the need for annual archiving or storage space and the transport by van of approximately 15,000 files in the future.

Current status: The programming of the file and the associated archive is largely complete. Only minor improvements are still being made as required. After a long approval process, the district government has approved our in-house scanning process and also the scanning of the file inventory by a service provider - the selection process including test scanning was already carried out in February 2021. Incoming mail for the Gummersbach branch office is already being digitized and forwarded to employees. Scanning of the inventory files will begin at the end of November. In this phase of the project, double file management will still be used; in addition to the e-file, the paper file will continue to be used. In the first quarter of 2022, processing in the external office is to be converted and carried out exclusively digitally.

Internal Service - Personnel

Internal Service - Personnel

Increase the home office quota

Measure: In the future, more employees at the Werk should be able to work from home. This promotes the compatibility of family and career, relieves the traffic infrastructure and reduces traffic-related CO2 emissions.     

Current status: In the past year, the home office rate increased sharply to 60%. However, this is a result of the Corona pandemic in particular. The rate is calculated from all employees who have a desktop workplace. Employees without a desktop workplace, e.g. production employees from gastronomy, are not included.

Internal Service - Purchasing

Internal Service - Purchasing

Development of sustainable purchasing guidelines

Measure: Sustainable purchasing guidelines for food/non-food purchasing are to be developed and established. Social or ecological aspects have not played a systematic role in our procurement processes to date and this shall change by adapting the procurement regulations accordingly.

Current status: Internal Service Purchasing submitted a proposal to the Executive Board in the second quarter of 2021 to modify the Procurement Ordinance, which has been approved in the meantime.

Supplier and manufacturer ratings

Measure: Manufacturer and supplier assessments regarding sustainability procedures are to be included in the guidelines. Manufacturers and suppliers are asked to submit their own sustainability concepts to the Werk. These in-house sustainability concepts are evaluated on a scale of 1-6 together with other criteria that are important for the supply (e.g. delivery reliability). All documents and concepts received from manufacturers and suppliers are filed in folders that can be viewed by the relevant departments. The aim of this measure is to proactively request data from manufacturers and suppliers and make it visible to our employees. This applies above all to suppliers who supply the Werk directly.

Current status: The supplier and manufacturer evaluation, which was proposed by our purchasing department, has been implemented since 2021 and is carried out in an enterprise resource planning system (TL 1) as well as in a publicly accessible folder that can be viewed by the demand centers. Currently, the supplier evaluation is still limited to the collection of sustainability concepts, of suppliers and manufacturers. Due to the pandemic and in view of the purchasing portal (EK-Portal) of the Studierendenwerke NRW, we are also currently developing an evaluation matrix. This will evaluate the economic, social and ecological criteria. The aim is to carry out the evaluation together with the gastronomy and then to select the number of suppliers required in accordance with the procurement regulations to carry out the procurement of the individual products via the EK portal.

 

Minimize delivery stops

Measure: In the tendering process of the food/non-food sector, delivery stops are to be optimized. The aim of the measure is to improve and minimize delivery stops by closely monitoring them, i.e. how often the Werk was supplied by suppliers in a given period of time. The delivery stops are to be managed more strategically and cost-effectively: On the one hand, we relieve road traffic by delivering less frequently; on the other hand, we expect the suppliers of the Werk to minimize their costs.

Current status: In the future, this is to be done under the leadership of our purchasing department in coordination with the gastronomy. The delivery stops are to be controlled by a key figure from purchasing in the next few years. Due to the Corona pandemic and the resulting closure of the dining halls as well as significantly lower deliveries this year, it has not yet been possible to decide on any further measures.

Increase eco-paper share

Measure: The plant's business paper is to be switched to certified (" Blauer Engel") paper in the short term. The "Blauer Engel" paper consists of 100% recycled paper. Further information on the " Blauer Engel" seal can be found here: https://www.blauer-engel.de/de.

Current status: In 2019, the Werk procured 80 cartons of " Blauer Engel" certified paper, i.e. 200,000 sheets. In 2020, 130 cartons were procured, i.e. 325,000 sheets. The measure is to be implemented in 2021. In the long term, all paper at the Werk is to be switched to recycled products. An alternative for "white" paper is currently being sought.

Development of recycled paper content in the Werk:

Internal Service - Facility Management

Internal Service - Facility Management

Expansion of photovoltaic capacities

Measure: In order to increase the share of renewable energy in the Werk, it must be checked where and to what extent we can place photovoltaic systems on our real estate. The current system capacity (40kWp) is to be doubled by 2023. (Budget € 120,000)

Current status: In order to be able to place photovoltaic systems, special criteria such as ownership and the technical requirements must be taken into consideration. Therefore, all locations where the Werk obtains electricity directly from suppliers were initially included. This is currently a total of 47 locations. After checking the feasibility, 20 locations remain to be considered.

The following points are to be checked on these during a local inspection: 

  1. Shading situation
  2. Installation possibilities
  3. Structure and condition of the existing roof construction
  4. Use of energy storage systems

In the next step, the load-bearing capacity of the ceiling, wind force and fastening system must be analyzed by a structural engineer.

Green electricity mix

Measure: The share of renewable electricity purchased directly from suppliers, set at a minimum of 50% in the procurement process, is to be increased to 100%.

Current status: the measure has been implemented and electricity from renewable sources has been put out to tender for all supplier offices; delivery will take place from 01.01.2022.

IT

IT

Support for recycling // Recycling of IT hardware

Measure: The IT department works with an external partner, AfB ("Work for People with Disabilities"), to recycle old IT hardware, e.g., user-related IT components such as desktop PCs, notebooks, smartphones and IT infrastructure such as servers, routers and switchers. In the first step, the IT hardware to be scrapped is collected from us. In the second step, the partner company AfB collects the IT hardware and takes care of the recycling: the used business IT is taken over, deleted in a certified manner, refurbished and remarketed. Equipment that can no longer be marketed is dismantled and professionally recycled. The process is environmentally friendly. The company also operates barrier-free: people with and without disabilities work hand in hand.

Current status: The measure has been implemented.

Corporate Communications

Corporate Communications

Advertising medium more and more paperless

Measure: Corporate Communications (Ukom) at the Werk plans and manages the digitization of various advertising materials. These include all departmental flyers (e.g. the student finance flyer), Studying in Cologne (SiK for short), advertising materials for the first-semester welcome and universal mini-flyers. The information will be posted on our website and social media channels in the future. A planned universal mini-flyer (working title "beer mat"), which we can use at first-semester welcomes and trade fairs, would then refer to our online offering. (cross-media via QR code). The advertising materials also include giveaways that are handed out at university events and trade fairs, for example. Here, the offer is severely limited and restricted exclusively to sustainable products.

Current status: Paper almost completely disappears for the departmental advertising flyers: paper consumption dropped by 76%. Ukom has canceled all flyers, the flyers were already on the website as PDF files before. Currently there are no department flyers and no SiK, a separate site is planned for SiK. The first semester welcome was accompanied by a landing page on which all relevant information were presented in a clear form.

 

Production of sustainability tutorials for students and employees

Measure: Sustainability is not just an organizational or abstract issue. We ourselves can behave more sustainably or less sustainably. So it does not only concern the company - the Werk - but our own personal behaviors. There is a lack of descriptive explanations on how to be sustainable in everyday study or work. For these reasons, Corporate Communications has proposed to produce and publish tutorials on sustainability. In this way, we reach not only our employees, but also the students.

Current status: In August 2021, the first two tutorials were published. The topics were the production of a plastic-free trash bag and the beeswax cloth - an alternative to cling film. Further videos are planned and will be produced in 2022.

Daycare center

Daycare center

Include sustainability in the educational concept of the daycare center

Measure: Various sustainability measures are integrated in the Werks daycare centers: Among other things, toys are made from everyday materials (e.g., balls or buttons are filled into used juice bottles or homemade plug-in cans) or from objects that are actually no longer usable (e.g., the St. Martin's lanterns were made from "garbage"). When purchasing new toys or furniture, the aspect of sustainability is taken into account. In addition, the children are taught sustainable behavior through play, e.g. waste separation or - in two kindergartens with their own compost - food composting.  In two daycare centers with their own high-beds, the children also learn how to plant vegetables, herbs and fruit. In conclusion, the kindergartens pay attention to a sustainable way of working. For example, parents are no longer informed by paper notices but by e-mail, info on the whiteboard or on the blackboard, organic waste is fed to the in-house snails and half portions of food are ordered. In addition, materials are re-used, such as snippets from cutting for other craft work.

Current status: Sustainability is becoming more and more present in the kindergartens, both in our own work and together with the children. Due to the Corona pandemic, attention to sustainability has been somewhat lost. Increased hygiene measures, the use of disinfectants, masks and also paper towels became necessary, but are unfortunately not very environmentally friendly. Further projects, such as a visit to the waste management companies and greater involvement of parents, are planned for the coming kindergarten year, should the development of the pandemic allow it.

Counseling

Counseling

Promote share and exchange actions

Measure: For the planning of the share and swap meets, it was considered which needs of the students are relevant for the goal, e.g. material support for students with children or pregnant women. The topic of sustainability should also be in the focus here. In order to avoid double structures, an overview of the offers in Cologne will be compiled.

Current status: The social counseling service has researched points of contact for collecting and exchanging used materials that are suitable for cooperation in the interest of our target group. In the next step, possible cooperations are to be examined. Due to the Corona pandemic, the measure was suspended for the time being, since it is based on the exchange and meeting of people.

Dormitory Tutor Program

Dormitory Tutor Program

Organize offers with sustainability characteristics

Measure: As part of the dormitory tutor program, an offer on the topic of sustainability should be set up at one location (e.g. repair café, upcycling workshop, bicycle workshop, etc.). In this way, students and residents/non-student groups can be brought into contact with each other.

Current status: Due to the Corona pandemic, the measure has been suspended for the time being, since it depends on the exchange of information between the people.