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Environment and Energy


The University's Overarching aim

To minimise and actively manage waste through elimination, reduction, reuse and recycling.

Our targets

  • To send zero non-hazardous waste to landfill by 2020.

  • To achieve continuous year-on-year reductions in waste arising per FTE staff and students.

  • To recycle at least 95% of total waste produced at the University by 2016.

What happens to the University's waste?

The University's main waste contractor is Veolia (formerly Mick George Ltd), who collect most waste streams from most University buildings (the Colleges have separate arrangements for waste, while another exception is departments embedded in Addenbrookes Hospital). The waste streams you're likely to find in your University building are:
  • Mixed recycling bins accepts all types of paper and card, as well as most plastics, tins, cans and foils, and cartons.
  • General waste bins (formerly landfill) collection takes non-recyclables such as wood, polystyrene, paper towels and mixed materials items (like crisp packets).
  • Food waste bins are available in buildings which produce sufficient volumes of food waste. It's suitable for compostables, but unlike your food bin at home you shouldn't put paper towels in it.
  • A glass recycling stream is also available. Please avoid putting glass into other waste streams.
  • Separate waste collection systems exist for e-wastebatteriesink and toner cartridgesand hazardous, chemical and clinical waste.
  • See the waste A-Z for a more detailed list of what to dispose of where, or read our frequently asked questions page.

In line with the University's target of sending zero waste to landfill, Veolia have committed to ensuring zero to landfill. A 'what goes where' guide shows how the University's waste is treated and disposed. 

What can you do to help cut waste and recycle at the University?

The University has a Waste & Recycling Strategy, which sets out our priorities for managing the issue of waste. This contains useful guiding principles for departments looking to improve their waste performance.

Other simple things you can do include:

  • Reduce and reuse - More important than recycling our waste, is to reduce the waste we produce in the first place. WarpIt is a great free way to reuse resources internally. Reducing the waste we produce is even better. Easy ways to achieve this have been trialled across the University. In 2018/19 the University's Green Impact teams helped to ensure that:

    • 25 departments committed to providing reusable cups and/or eliminating disposable drinking cups altogether.

    • 27 departments provided facilities for re-using envelopes for internal use. 

    • 24 departments ensured that duplex printing is the default option. 

    • 26 departments shifted to providing tap water rather than bottled water for meetings. 

    • 9 departments shifted to recycled or sustainably-sourced paper. 

    • 6 departments took proactive steps to reduce hand-outs taken to meetings or used in lectures.

  • Communicate - To help you and your colleagues understand and communicate recycling at the University, ensure that you download the latest bin labelling and posters and affix these to all relevant internal bins, or display them prominently in your building.

  • Recycle - For queries on specific items and how to recycle them, visit the recycling A-Z.

  • Take further action - There are many small but impactful actions you can take in your department to reduce waste, increase recycling and create a culture of sustainability. Visit our spotlight on waste webpages for ideas, or sign up to Green Impact which provides departments and colleges a framework for action. The comprehensive guide to waste & recycling in University departments provides a complete checklist for improving recycling in your department, supplemented by best practice guidance gathered from across the University estate

  • Contact us - The Environment & Energy section can offer advice and guidance on recycling, or a 'waste and recycling audit' to help you identify simple areas for improvement. Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions about improving recycling in your workplace.