Waste and water

Our sustainable university - Waste and water

Managing our waste and water are important sustainability priorities to improve our environmental performance and reduce costs in running our estate. We have put in place various measures to minimise our impact and also to engage with people in ways that contribute to shifting thinking around waste and supporting the circular economy.

ISO 14001:2015 Environmental Management System targets

Our Environmental Management System (EMS) sets SMART targets against our 2009/10 baseline to:

  • Reduce waste arising by 25% by 2019/20
  • Reduce waste going to landfill by 81% by 2019/20
  • Increase our recycling rate to 75% by 2019/20
  • Reduce water consumption by 30% by 2019/20

Our achievements

Our 2017/18 figures show:

  • Our waste arising has reduced 35%
  • Our waste to landfill has reduced by 98%
  • 71% of all waste is now recycled
  • Our CO2 emissions from water supply and consumption have reduced
Image of Cupless trial to remove disposable cups from refectories


In 2017/18 we successfully trialled the removal of disposable cups from our refectories resulting in 4610 cups being eliminated from our waste stream in just one summer. This scheme was rolled out permanently from September 2018 with re-usable cups available for purchase from the SU or refectories.

Our good practices

  • Electricity production – Transferring 90% of our non-recyclable waste to an energy recovery plant where it is combusted to produce around 65 MWh of electricity every year
  • Separating food waste in refectories and kitchens to prevent spoiling dry waste, and introducing a reward card system to minimise staff/student use of disposables
  • Emissions and discharges – we regularly audit our emissions to air and water as part of identifying and evaluating our environmental impacts and aspects, confirming our continuing compliance against our legal register, and by conducting internal audits as a requirement of our certified ISO 14001 environmental management system
  • Individual departments such as our Libraries, who have reused and recycled 11,556 books, saving 184 trees and 86,000 gallons of water
  • Working with the British Heart Foundation – to encourage students and staff to put unwanted items in campus collection bins, particularly when moving out of halls
  • Measures to reduce water consumption:
    • Improved water metering and monitoring at all campuses
    • Trial of low flow devices at Elwes Building on Park Campus
    • An independent survey of water consumption at the student bar on FCH campus
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