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Waste as a resource

Waste and recycling

We see waste as a resource that has value, and by reducing the amount of materials we use in the first place we can make a big impact. This impact involves everyone doing their bit to reduce, reuse and recycle, in that order. In 2018/19, we sent nothing to landfill and recycled 75% of our waste, 5% more than in 2017/18. We strive to keep improving, which is why we were ranked 10th in the world for SDG12: Responsible Consumption and Production in the THE Impact Rankings 2020.

Where should my waste go?

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. Our general waste is sent to produce energy and our food waste anaerobically digested, also to generate energy.

  • Mixed recycling: most of your everyday waste free from food or liquid. Don’t worry too much about crumbs as they will not contaminate a bag of dry mixed recycling however half a cup of coffee or your leftover lunch will.
  • Food recycling: anything edible.
  • Non-recyclable waste: a last resort for contaminated or non-recyclable items including crisp packets, napkins and plastic types 3, 6 and 7 (these are often displayed on the product)
  • Other waste: batteries, electronics, hazardous waste and bulky waste need to be recycled at special collection points dotted around campus.

Student waste audit

Every year student volunteers lead a waste audit to identify areas of improvement in our waste management. Using this information we are able to make changes such as introducing new bins or refreshing our signage to make it easier for people to recycle correctly.

The audit involves students sorting through bags of mixed recycling and non-recyclable waste from each of the waste compounds around the University. In 2018, students found that approximately 50% of the general waste content could have been recycled. As a result, we redesigned our bin signage to include clearer information. They also found that food waste contamination had reduced since the prior audit, which was a positive impact of our deploying more food waste bins around campus. 

How to get involved

  • Take steps to reduce your own waste. 
  • Take advantage of our water re-fill points
  • Enjoy a 30p saving when using a reusable mug at our catering outlets
  • Say 'no' to disposables!

Opportunities to take part in the annual Waste Audit are advertised early in the year on the SUBU Volunteering page. Keep your eye on our website, social media and the SUBU Sustainability page for other opportunities to get involved. Or create your own! Students have organised a number of waste-related campaigns and projects over the past few years including a ‘Ban the Straw’ Campaign and numerous local litter picks and beach cleans.

Working together

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. 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.

Please contact the Sustainability Team if you have any questions about our waste management.