Improving recycling rates on campus

17th October 2017 Posted by

Although freshers’ week has come to an end, there is still a buzz in the air. Universities and colleges across the country are bursting with eager students ready to take on the new academic year. This excitement brings new opportunities to improve environmental performance on campus.

Understanding the waste streams that are generated on campus is a good step towards improving environmental performance on the whole. Liverpool Guild of Students, the University of Liverpool’s Students’ Union, together with SUEZ recycling and recovery UK created a clear picture of the composition and quantity of their waste through conducting a full waste audit. The audit highlighted areas for improvement in efficiency and further cost savings. It also outlined that a high proportion of the waste being deposited into the general waste bins was actually suitable for recycling.

Using computerised weighing technology to accurately record the weight of recycling or waste materials collected, provides greater insights into who are high or low recyclers across a university or college campus. Problems with contamination can be pinpointed to a specific container and in turn this information can illustrate which departments or campus areas are producing too much general waste and where costs can potentially be reduced. This technology also provides the ability to predict waste levels across campuses, thereby accurately forecasting waste costs.

Following the audit, SUEZ worked with the Guild to trial a combination of bins. At the start of 2016, there were eight general waste bins which has now been reduced to five. In contrast, the number of mixed recycling bins has increased from five to eight in order to meet the increased quantities of recyclates being captured.

The Guild representatives also attended an organised site visit at the local SUEZ facility in order to gain greater insight into which materials are suitable for recycling. It was at the facility that the representatives established that the beer cups the students use on campus, which account for a substantial amount of their waste, are in fact recyclable.

Increased knowledge of waste streams gained by the students and staff at the Guild has enabled them to increase the quantity of recyclable material being collected. They now hold ‘bin awareness days’ twice a year where they engage with fellow students and staff members through incentivised activities, sharing recycling knowledge and encouraging the right waste to be put in the right bin.

Since the implementation of the new waste management scheme in June 2016, Liverpool Guild has seen an improvement in staff and student engagement.

Recycling at the university previously made up on average 31% of their waste, this has now increased to an average of 61%. The Guild is in control of its waste streams and has the knowledge and awareness to dispose of all their waste in the best way to limit environmental impact.

Dave Wheatley, Green Guild Project Manager (department within Liverpool Guild of Students) said:

“A simple solution creating a huge impact: I appreciate the responsiveness of SUEZ and the way that they worked together with us in order to find the right solution for our needs.”

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