Increasing recycling rates in the School of Biosciences

The Sustainability Champion for the School of Biosciences has led on a project that has seen recycling rates increase threefold. Alex Moore identified a problem in research labs where the layout of bins and lack of clear information meant that researchers were placing the majority of their recyclable waste into general waste bins (this waste goes to incineration with energy recovery).

On initial assessment 99% the waste in the general waste bins was recyclable. Due to the nature of the waste produced in a research lab and the lack of space Alex and colleagues from the Estates Department came up with a trial new waste scheme to test what would work for the lab users.

New small desktop bins were installed to help researchers with ease of correct disposal at their fingertips, without taking up precious desk space. The main lab bins were relabelled to ensure they were clear and to reflect how many recycling bins there should be to general waste bins. Clear communications through posters and labelling were designed to showcase the top ten lab recyclables that should be going into the green marked bins. All labelling was checked by the Safety, Health and Environment Unit to ensure that it was clear what to do with hazardous/contaminated waste.

The Kent Fungal Group were the test lab and the results after a month of trialling were extraordinary with recycling rates increasing threefold. Once the trial was successfully completed the project was rolled out throughout the School of Biosciences.

The Gulbenkian: Project Zero

Project Zero – The Gulbenkian have been on a mission to reduce all waste where possible from their café, theatre and cinema operations.  Since the start of Project Zero, headed up by Sustainability Champion Daniel Parsons, they have:

• Removed all single use plastic bottles in the café, saving an estimated 50000 plastic bottles since August 2018

• Switched to reusable plastic pint and half pint cups which has significantly reduced their single use plastic cup buying

• Partnered with ‘Too Good To Go’ and sold 626 magic bags. These are bags of food that would be thrown away and instead offer meals to customers at significantly reduced rates

• Sent all their milk bottle caps to a company that reuse the plastic, that’s about 300 caps a week

• Hosted a family day on climate change with thoughts, ideas and pledges shared on the ‘SustainabiliTree.’

The Sustainability Team at the Gulbenkian will be continuing Project Zero into the next academic year and will continue their focus on waste as well as looking at carbon.

Sustainability celebrations at Kent Community Oasis Garden

Last week, sustainability champions from across the University celebrated the first year anniversary of the FutureProof project at a garden party held at the Kent Community Oasis Garden.

FutureProof is the University of Kent’s response to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and provides a framework, challenging and supporting each University department to review their impacts against the SDGs and working to create positive change.

FutureProof, which launched in June 2018, aims to inspire individuals, departments and the whole University community to take action in ensuring that our estate, our curriculum and our students are ready for the future.

The Sustainability Champions are key to the project’s success as they act as catalysts for change in their departments and conduits for sustainability information across the University. As part of their role as champions they lead on their own projects and the celebration event was the sustainability’s team way of saying thank you to them for all their hard work.

The event highlighted case studies from the year, which can be read in full in the Futureproof report

Projects have included a tripling of recycling rates in Biosciences, education for sustainable development projects at the Business School and a wellbeing project at the Medway campus.

To celebrate, the sun came out for a delicious vegan BBQ prepared by chef Ben Elsbury (from Kent Hospitality), games with prizes to be won, and a refreshing mocktail bar with fresh herbs from the garden.

In its first year FutureProof has held 6 workshops at both the Canterbury and Medway campuses with an overall attendance across them of 124, recruited 65 sustainability champions from 43 different departments, and supported 20 sustainability projects from across the University.

For more information about FutureProof please visit www.kent.ac.uk/sustainability or email sustainability@kent.ac.uk