Sustainability and health
Regional, Organic, Fair, Climate, Environment

The topic of sustainability and the handling of resources is very important to us. Our special responsibility not only to protect nature and the environment, but also to preserve them for future generations, influences and guides our actions and thinking.

In our dining halls and cafés, we have the opportunity to act in the spirit of sustainability in many places. The expansion of regional, fair and organic offerings is an important step. In addition, we are still working along the chain of action on a conscious use of resources, in the use of technology and saving waste and food waste.

Environmental score
Eating more environmentally consciously in the cafeteria

The Studierendenwerk Hamburg labels its dishes on the menu with an environmental score. Based on this score, you can see directly what impact your choice of food has on the climate.


Transparency in matters of sustainability

The environmental score is based on the Eaternity database and shows the relevant values for each dish on the menu:

  • CO₂ emissions (in grams of CO₂ equivalents per portion)
  • Water (in litres per dish)
  • Rainforest

What is important here is that:

  • for better comparability, the dishes are rated based on nutritional values in relation to a standard size, regardless of their portion size. This means that everything from snacks to main meals can be compared fairly. You can find more information here.
  • If a meal has no values, there are no calculation values for this dish.

Stars are awarded depending on the level of CO₂ equivalents. The more stars, the lower the emissions. Three stars mean that the CO₂ value is less than half of the average CO₂ value of the analysed dishes in the database. The rating takes into account the nutritional values and is standardised to a standard portion.

Stars are awarded depending on the consumption of ‘scarce’ water. A particularly low consumption is labelled with three stars. Three stars mean that the proportion of scarce water for this dish is below the average comparative value for all the dishes analysed. Scarce water describes the proportion of drinking water that comes from countries where water is already scarce.

Stars are awarded according to the impact that the products used have on the rainforest. Three stars means that the dish contains no critical products. This takes into account both animal feed and food intended for direct human consumption.


You can find a detailed explanation of the rating scale here.


Data basis:
The data required for the environmental score is calculated and evaluated on the basis of the Eaternity Database (EDB). The EDB is a comprehensive environmental balance food database of the Swiss organisation Eaternity, which is constantly being expanded and reviewed. The data for all common foods is determined using a life cycle analysis based on seasonality, cultivation methods, transport, preservation and processing models. The evaluation of the dish in terms of its contribution to the carbon footprint is based on the comparative values of many companies from the catering industry.
Further information on the Eaternity footprint and the database can be found here: Eaternity database.


Short distances of the food from the supplier to the canteen

If possible, we prefer food from the region. Our asparagus, apples, strawberries and blueberries we get dewy exclusively from the region, and we are in negotiation with our supplier to expand the range even further. For example, there are already promotions with Sussländer pig - which also comes from the region.

We are organic certified


Already now we offer coffee and all coffee specialties exclusively in organic quality and fair trade. In addition, we have many cold drinks, tea, drinking chocolate and bananas in organic quality. As a certified company, we fulfill all relevant regulations to be able to use and label organic products and are subject to the strict controls of the Prüfverein Verarbeitung ökologischer Landbauprodukte e.V., according to the EG-Öko Verordnung DE-ÖKO-007. The appointed inspection body monitors all production steps of the food on its way to our canteens and cafés. This ensures a high level of transparency and safety for our customers.

Fairer Umgang

We are in the process of expanding our range of Fairtrade products. Thus, we offer coffee and coffee specialties exclusively in Fairtrade quality, likewise various teas, different cold drinks, drinking chocolate and bananas with the Fairtrade seal.

For this we have been awarded by TransFair, the association for the promotion of Fair Trade in One World.

  • guaranteed minimum prices for the farmers
  • long-term trading relationships
  • financing of community projects in the producing countries
  • careful use of natural reserves.

For a healthy, nutritious and sustainable diet

For more and more people, a healthy, nutritious and sustainable diet plays an important role; especially when the day is spent mainly sitting down and the ability to concentrate must not suffer. Under the mensaVital brand, we offer dishes that are prepared in a particularly vitamin-friendly and low-fat way - with natural ingredients without flavor enhancers. In return, fresh herbs ensure even more aromatic taste experiences. Our carefully compiled and nutritionally balanced recipes offer you a varied, wholesome range.

Principles of mensaVital
Under the motto "Fresh through the day", mensaVital stands for balanced and contemporary food. Variety of taste and freshness are defining elements. Every dish in the Vital line meets the following criteria:

  • balanced composition of ingredients
  • careful food selection
  • fresh natural ingredients
  • vitamin-preserving and low-fat preparation
  • use of high-quality fats and oils
  • use of fresh herbs
  • each meal contains a proportion of fresh vegetables
  • balanced proportion of fish, meat, vegetarian and vegan dishes
  • Avoidance of fried and breaded foods
  • renunciation of highly processed foods
  • Avoidance of flavor enhancers and seasonings.


Veggie Day

From 1 December 2023, Fridays will be Veggie Day in all Studierendenwerk Hamburg cafeterias. On this day, there will be a completely vegetarian and vegan menu.


No genetic engineering
Renunciation of genetically modified product

We do not use any products that have to be labeled according to EU law for genetically modified organisms (GMOs). I.e., we do not use any foodstuffs

  • which are produced from genetically modified organisms (e.g. oil from genetically modified rape)
  • which are themselves a genetically modified organism (e.g. potatoes, corn)
  • which contain genetically modified organisms (e.g. yogurt with genetically modified bacteria).

Reusable instead of disposable
Of course you can!

Getting your favorite coffee on the way to class, in the cup you brought yourself? No problem in the cafés and dining halls of the Studierendenwerk!

Together we ensure less waste on campus, while at the same time saving valuable raw materials and energy that would go into the production of disposable cups. The flood of paper cups is also a thorn in our side and we would like to see less paper cups being used. However, we cannot completely do without the cups, as we want to continue to make it possible for you to enjoy your coffee on the go. As an incentive to use fewer cups, we have introduced a discount of 10 cents for using your own cup and a price of 20 cents for the paper cup.

Studierendenwerk Hamburg is a partner of the KEHR.WIEDER campaign and the KEHR.WIEDER cup - For coffee-to-go fans with a heart for the environment.


Put an end to disposable waste, even when it comes to food!
Reusable dishes in our cafeterias and Cafés

We also want to reduce disposable waste for meals to go. That's why we have introduced the reusable deposit system of the provider Revelo in our cafeterias and cafés.

Simply download the Relevo app, register and off you go: 

  • Take the food with you in free and deposit-free Relevo reusable dishes.
  • Scan the QR code on the dishes. 
  • Show the scan confirmation at the checkout.
  • Enjoy your meal.
  • Return the dishes within 14 days to us at the dish returns or one of the Relevo partners (see app) within 14 days. Then it costs you nothing. If you miss the deadline, Relevo will charge you € 10 per bowl and € 5 per cup. You also have the option of extending the deadline by 7 days via Revelo for one euro.

Return options for single-use beverage containers

In our cafeterias and cafés, we offer reusable beverage containers for the most part, but also disposable ones. We take back all returnable and disposable beverage containers subject to deposit at our checkouts. This happens regardless of brand or content, as long as the beverage packaging is made of a material that we also have in our product range.

The single-use beverage containers are returned to our beverage supplier for further processing in order to promote recycling-oriented material cycles and prevent them from entering the landscape and oceans.


Less food waste and less waste
Good planning and recycling

First of all, we do our best to ensure that we produce few food leftovers.

Therefore, we try to calculate the quantities already in purchasing and demand planning so that nothing is left over. Fresh produce is delivered every day, processed on a daily basis and sold to you immediately. The supply is produced as close to the time as possible so that we do not produce large surpluses. Open food that has been in the serving area is not allowed back to the guest for food law reasons. Our leftover food is picked up by a food waste provider who recycles it.

We have introduced a happy hour in our cafés to give away possible surpluses at reduced prices.

Excellent offer

With our range of vegan dishes, we offer you the opportunity to eat animal-free and healthy, even when you're out of the house. In this way, we show that aspects such as nutritional physiology, ecological compatibility, social justice and animal welfare can definitely be reconciled with the daily demands of running a university canteen. In the Bergedorf, Berliner Tor, Botanischer Garten, Blattwerk, Bucerius Law School, Finkenau, Harburg, HCU, Stellingen and Studierendenhaus cafeterias, we offer you a vegan meal every day. There are also vegan options in the 12 cafeterias of the Studierendenwerk and in the cafés.


The animal rights organisation PETA regularly awards especially vegan-friendly canteens in Germany. In August 2023, "Blattwerk - deine vegetarische Mensa" received 4 stars, the highest award for vegan-vegetarian cafeterias. This honours our commitment to vegan nutrition in university gastronomy.