Here at BU, we acknowledge that what we purchase and the waste we produce can have significant environmental, social and economic impacts. To reduce these impacts, we are committed to taking a sustainable approach to our purchasing activities.
Everything has value, and the resources we class as ‘waste’ have value too. A net-zero world will limit waste of any kind and with material resources that means following circular economy principles and the waste hierarchy: re-think, reduce, reuse, recycle, in all we do from how we buy things to how we dispose of them.
In 2021-22, we achieved a recycling rate of 70%. We strive to keep improving, which is why we were ranked 6th in the world and 4th in the UK for SDG12: Responsible Consumption and Production in the THE Impact Rankings 2023.
Moving forward, our target is to increase and maintain a recycling rate of 80% by 2030/31, and to reduce our non-construction and demolition/residential waste produced to 20kg/FTE.
Please do email the Sustainability Team at if you have any questions about our waste management.
How can I tackle waste?
There are a lot of steps we can do to reduce our individual waste and using the following hierarchy, which lists our options from best to worst, is a great way to approach it:
- Rethink: do I need this? How much waste do I produce? How can I rethink my choices? Explore and discover new ways of doing something, new products or brands and then re-choose.
- Refuse: actively say you don't need a straw, bag or napkin, refuse unwanted freebies, refuse anything that doesn't match what waste you want to produce.
- Reduce: There are quick wins for us all to reduce waste. What switches can you make?
- Repair: Many things we dispose of could have a fresh new life if we committed to fixing them up! Try some DIY, get crafty or find your local repair cafe for all those beloved items we don't want, or need, to say goodbye to.
- Re-use: The best use of resources is to use what we have already. Re-use what you have already, choose second-hand, or ask someone else if you can share their resource.
- Recycle: Are you surprised how far down recycling falls? Stopping waste production in the first place is always better than dealing with that waste, but if you have it, do recycle responsibly, taking note of whether the product is recyclable or not so the other recycled items won't be contaminated.
Less clutter also can improve our wellbeing, productivity and mood.
What can I recycle on campus?
Stop. Think. Recycle. We keep our bin options simple at BU by sorting our mixed recycling waste at our waste facilities so you don't have to. The recycling system we have on campus is likely different to what you have in your accommodation and what you saw in your local area, so do check signs locally for all recycling details.
What can be recycled on campus?
Items that typically can be recycled include:
- Paper and cardboard
- Most hard plastics e.g. tubs and pots
What shouldn't be recycled?
Putting non-recyclable items in recycling bins can contaminate the entire waste stream. Some common non-recyclable items include:
- Crisp and sweet wrappers
- Disposable coffee cups and paper cups
- Paper that bounces back when balled up e.g. shiny wrapping paper
- Cling film
- Plastic types 3, 6 and 7 (the plastic type should be labelled on the product)
- Food or drink covered items: if your items are covered with food and drink (e.g. coffee or salad dressing), please put the leftover food and drink in our food waste bins and the contaminated item in our last resort bins.
Batteries can be disposed of in their designated recycling points located in the SUBU shop on Talbot Campus, in Weymouth House and at SUBU Reception.
Crisp Packets can be disposed of in special bins located in Poole House reception, Studland House an BGB ground floor. These are taken away to be made into furniture by ReFactory.
Stationary can be recycled in special bins located in Poole House reception and in BGB ground floor. They will be recycled by Terracyle.
For all other items - or if you are unsure of how to get rid of something, please contact the Estates helpdesk on on 01202 65515 or [email protected]
Find out where our waste goes in the next section.
If you live in Bournemouth, you can find out what goes into your household waste here.
What happens to the waste on campus?
Our mixed recycling goes to the SUEZ materials recycling facility in Avonmouth, Bristol. Here the recyclable materials are sorted into individual material types (e.g. paper, plastic) before being sold for reprocessing within Europe.
Our general waste heads to an energy recovery centre either in Severnside, Bristol, or in Europe. Here it is incinerated to generate electricity to power local homes and businesses.
Glass bottles and jars
Our glass heads to a glass recycling facility in Southampton where it is crushed, cleaned and mechanically sorted by colour before being re-melted into new glass bottles or jars. A small amount goes as aggregate for construction.
Our food waste heads to an anaerobic digestion facility either in Dorset, Hampshire or West Sussex. Once there, it is broken down into compost fertiliser or biogas, which is used to generate heat, electricity and transport fuel.
(All information above provided by Suez, our main waste contractor)
Crisp and sweet wrappers
Our crisp and sweet wrapper boxes are ordered from and processed by ReFactory. Once we send them our bins, they take the non-recyclable contents and re-introduce it back into the supply chain or manufacture bespoke products such as furniture.
How do we buy things at BU?
Our Procurement Team work closely with suppliers to ensure they meet strict criteria regarding the environment and the treatment of their workers as part of the tender process. Furthermore, all purchases above £25,000 must complete a Life Cycle Analysis, which identifies the environmental and social issues that may arise during the entire life cycle of the product so that we can work to address them.
It is important to reduce the resources we waste and so we are working to embed circular economy principles in our procurement process. Watch this video to find out more about the circular economy which we promote to our suppliers.
We have published a statement to show how BU and our main suppliers meet the requirements of the Modern Slavery Act 2015.
This work is led by our Responsible & Ethical Procurement Group. If you have any questions or want to get involved such as through a research project, then do contact us at [email protected].
At BU, we understand that our impacts go beyond our campus borders, and where we choose to invest our money impacts people and the planet. Therefore, we take care to invest our money ethically, by giving due consideration to social, environmental and corporate governance issues when investing the University’s funds. We welcome staff, student and stakeholder involvement to ensure we achieve this and continually improve. For example, campaigning by our students resulted in BU divesting from all fossil fuels.
Through our Purchasing Consortium, SUPC, we are members of Electronics Watch, which helps public sector organisations work together and collaborate with civil society monitors in production regions to protect the rights of workers in their electronics supply chains.
Electronics Watch allows us to detect problems workers do not usually report to social auditors, remedy problems in a timely manner, and address systemic issues over time. Moreover, our collaboration with buyers within and across countries creates the strength and leverage to address issues such as forced labour and health and safety hazards and improve conditions for workers.
You can find out more about Electronics Watch here.
All of us working together to reduce our waste is an easy way to reduce our carbon emissions and overall environmental impact. BU is part of the South Coast Affinity Group – a group of local universities who work together to increase our impact and share ideas. The Group has received national recognition for its innovative approach to waste management and means that everything we do at BU can be shared with institutions across the entire region.
We also work with charities and non-profit organisations to redistribute and reuse any surplus furniture through WARPit. Since January 2019 we have saved almost 20 tonnes of waste from going to landfill through this, equalling over 40 tonnes of CO2, and provided furniture to around 30 local charities, schools and organisations.
There are many projects you can get involved in around responsible consumption and production as part of your course. For example, students in the Design & Engineering department study the circular economy and actively embed it within their projects. Not only is this fantastic experience, but you can test your products with BU.
Moving forward to net zero
Within our steps to net zero, we seek to adopt future-facing processes, practices and lifestyles, and this means acknowledging that the first step is to reduce waste production through the adoption of sustainable procurement principles. The first step is to signal to the market place that as we are on the journey to net-zero, we expect suppliers to also commit to a net-zero future and will actively select such businesses through awarding of contracts.
The second step is to reduce what we buy and to buy better – meaning buying products with low embedded carbon that do not destroy the planet in their manufacture; which contain less harmful components and more recycled content and that are easy to re-manufacture when at end of life before sending them for recycling. We will continue to send zero waste to landfill.
Things to donate when you are leaving accomodation?
When you leave your university accomodation you may have items you want to donate. This can range from clothing to small electronic items, to furniture or bedding. SUBU run The Big Give programme which provides drop off points to make it easier for you to avoid your waste going to landfill. For 2023 they are also partnering with a local charity called Prama, so look out for more information for your nearest drop off points.
At BU, we are always trying to find ways to reduce our waste. To help us do this, we gather waste data across the year. This includes campus waste, residential waste from the student village, and construction waste. We can use this data to develop strategies to reduce our waste generation, increase our recycling rate, and optimise our waste management procedures.
You can have a look at our waste data for 2021-22 here!