Campaigns, Schemes, Awards & News
- Better Apart
- Waste Awareness Week
- End of Term Halls Reuse Drive
- Circular Economy Capital Funding 2019-20
- Every Can Counts
- Lab Plastic Recycling
- Catering – “Think Before You Drink”
- Halls of Residence – “Best Environmental Management”
- The University’s Stance on Plastic
- Working Groups
Help us become a more sustainable University by moving from a mixed recycling system to a separated one.
Your one orange mixed recycling bin will soon become three:
- plastic, metal & cartons (orange lid)
- paper & card (blue lid)
- glass (red lid)
By separating our recycling this way, we aim to improve our recycling rates and produce cleaner, higher-quality recycling with a greater likelihood that the recyclets will be used here in Wales or in the UK. Bangor University currently reuses, recycles and composts 61% of our waste, we aim to increase that to 70% by 2025. Our new bins are also made out of 100% recycled plastic!
Our recycling system will change on the following dates:
- Office, lab and teaching areas - 14th December 2020
- St Mary’s & Bryn Eithin Halls of Residence – 21st December 2020
- Ffriddoedd Halls of Residence – as soon as possible in the new year/early 2021 (recycling is already separated in Ffriddoedd and so students can continue as they are until the new bins are delivered).
- Wrexham campus – summer 2021 (streams to be reviewed once new contract awarded in spring, bins already purchased).
Waste Awareness Week
Waste Awareness Week is the University’s annual week-long waste campaign, which aims to increase awareness about waste reduction, reuse and recycling, inform students about possible career opportunities in the sector, and engage students and staff in resource efficiency events and activities. WAW takes place annually during the first week in October. The campaign was originally developed by the Sustainability Lab in partnership with Halls of Residence and Campus Life back in 2017.
End of Term Halls Reuse Drive
Bangor University strives to be the most resource efficient University; indeed we were ranked 7th in the world by the THE impact 2020 for our contribution to the SDG12 ‘ensuring sustainable production and consumption’.
Even though we are currently facing unprecedented challenges due to Covid-19, we are still working hard behind the scenes to ensure we capture as many items and materials for reuse and recycling as possible.
With the 2020 summer break approaching, many of students will soon be moving out of their halls of residence. As they pack they will realise that they have many reusable items that are no longer required.We are offering them the opportunity to donate them to charity rather than throwing them away.
Donating not disposing
The End of Term Halls Reuse drive, organised collaboratively by Halls, PaCS and the Sustainability Lab provides students with the opportunity to donate unwanted reusable items to a local charity, Antur Waunfawr. Items including, crockery, pots and pans, clothes, shoes, kitchen utensils, can all be donated. All that’s required is for the student to place the reusable items in a red plastic bag provided, to be left outside the bedroom door. General waste, recycling, or food waste should not be placed in the red bag. It’s possible for the students to donate unopened non-perishable foods such as cereal, tins and jars by leaving them on their kitchen table.
The health and safety of our students, staff and volunteers is a priority during this pandemic. It has therefore been agreed that all items donated for reuse in the 2020 campaign are to be collected, stored and moved in red, single use bags. This will ensure that donations are not handled by multiple people in a short space of time, and once the donations have reached their destination, they can be sorted and processed as soon as possible.
Circular Economy Capital Funding 2019-20
Bangor University received grant funding through the Circular Economy Capital Fund 2019-20 for 260 sets of EnviroStack bins (made of 100% recycled content) in order to move from a comingled recycling system to a semi-segregated one as well as an electric vehicle for waste collections in 2020.
We would like to take the opportunity to thank Welsh Government for their continued support.
Every Can Counts
On the 30th September 2019, we launched our “Every Can Counts” Campaign as part of Waste Awareness Week and introduced 8 ‘on-the-go’ can recycling bins across campus.
Whist we have extensive recycling facilities in our buildings, we are aware that we still lose valuable material when our students, staff and visitors are out and about on campus. Aluminium cans are a great material to capture as they are closed-loop, which means they can be recycled over and over, forever, with no loss of quality and using only 5% of the energy used when creating the product from new. We hope this will be yet another step to ensure valuable material is captured here at Bangor, and not lost to energy recovery.
Look out for the can bins located around campus.
As we collect our plastic, metal and cartons together (as one recycling stream), from 2020, these bins can also be used to for plastic bottles and drink cartons when staff and students are ‘on-the-go’.
Lab Plastic Recycling
As most of you are aware, all our labs across the University are heavily dependent on plastics. We have therefore recently been reviewing our practices across campus, to see how we can apply the waste hierarchy in the labs. Whilst there is a great deal of single-use plastic that is discarded, there is also a great deal that is washed and reused across most of our labs, and we would like to ensure this is common practice. When reusing in not an option, we ask our student and staff to recycle the material.
On the 23rd of September 2019, to celebrate Recycling Week, we commenced with our lab plastic recycling collection. Further details on what can be recycled can be found on our ‘Recycling at the University’ page.
Catering – “Think before you drink”
There will be several catering initiatives taking place during 2019/20, which aim to ensure that the University’s Catering team operate as sustainably as possible (bearing in mind that sustainable means – considering environmental, social, financial and cultural impacts), use their resources efficiently and contribute to a circular economy. The waste hierarchy will be applied to all decision-making, and waste prevention will be the preferred option where possible.
The first set of initiatives will focus on prevention and reuse. However, the messages delivered during these initiatives will not be restricted to the campaign period but continually promoted and communicated to ensure that the information is available to any new student, staff or visitor; to promote wider understanding and participation.
“Think Before You Drink”
The prevention and reuse initiatives were launched on the 29th April 2019 as part of the “Think Before You Drink” campaign, and focuses on reducing the number of straws used across campus, removing all single-use drink stirrers from our outlets, promoting the refill scheme thus reducing the need for single-use bottles, and promoting the use of reusable cups in order to reduce single-use coffee cups.
Straws have been removed from all counters and will only be available on request. This should substantially reduce the amount of straws used and thrown away in the University. The straws that are available on request will all be plastic, as the people who need straws require them to be plastic – they will therefore always be available on request in line with the Equality Act 2010. No straw is recyclable or compostable locally at present, regardless of material. Paper straws are made from low quality paper that absorbs liquid and is therefore not recyclable, whilst paper straws, biodegradable straws and compostable straws cannot be processed in an Anaerobic Digester. Changing the material is therefore not a sustainable solution, the only sustainable solution is to prevent the waste from being created in the first instance.
We have also removed all single-use drink stirrers regardless of material and have replaced them with reusable metal spoons, which the catering team will wash. Whilst having coffee on the go is a part of modern life, most people don’t make their coffee when on the go, and so it is believed that stirrers are an unnecessary waste product regardless of the material they are made of. We ask however, that you please don’t take the spoons with you as this would make the initiative unsustainable, as it would become too costly.
We are promoting Bangor University as a refill University, where you can fill up your reusable water bottles for free in any of our outlets (except Copa – that has no running water). Bangor University branded water bottles are available for sale in each outlet.
Reusable coffee mugs are also be sold and promoted. You will receive your first hot drink for free if you purchase one of our Bangor University mugs. You also receive 10p off every drink if you bring your own cup/mug.
“Think Before You Drink” is a collaborative campaign led by the University’s Catering team, the Sustainability Lab and the Students Union. We are finalists for this year’s green Gown Awards with the campaign. To date we have prevented 9,171 single-use items from being used and disposed of across campus with the campaign.
Over the coming months, we will be continuing with our improvement by replacing condiment sachets with bottles and jars, reviewing possible use of crockery in some outlets, reviewing our alternative milk selection as it generates a great deal of waste and looking at recycling more of our catering materials.
Halls of Residence – “Best Environmental Management”
Our Halls of Residence team won the award for the Best Environmental Management in the National Student Housing Survey Awards in 2018.
Founded in 1884, Bangor University has a long tradition of academic excellence and a strong focus on the student experience. Around 11,000 students currently study at the University, with 650 teaching staff based within twenty-three Academic Schools. Bangor University is a strong, confident institution recognised regionally, nationally and internationally as a centre of excellence for its varied portfolio of teaching and research, and for the unique, multicultural, inclusive experience, it provides for its staff and students.
Bangor University is delighted to have won the award for Best Environmental Management, and it is testimony to the dedication and inspired thinking of the Residential Life Team and the Sustainability Team.
Waste awareness sessions are delivered to students at the start of term; these include short presentations, talks and workshops. We work with our Residential Mentors to ensure they are comfortable talking to their peers about waste, and are currently in the process of reviewing an app used by residential mentors, to include questions on the quality and quantity of recycling. This will allow us to monitor recycling behaviour and address any problems our students are experiencing with regards to their waste.
British Heart Foundation Cymru (BHF) banks have been installed onsite, to promote reuse and donations, and are accessible day and night throughout the year. We also ran our first Reuse and Recycling Drive this year, a day spent at both student villages to talk to students and promote recycling, reuse and donations, and to discuss what students will need to do with their recycling once they have left halls and are living out in the community. As well as members of staff from the Halls team and the Sustainability Lab team, BHF and the local council attended. Unwanted furniture from recent Halls refurbishments have also been donated raising tens of thousands of pounds for the charity.
Waste Awareness Week (WAW) is the University’s main university-wide waste campaign, and the Residential Life team and Campus Life are central to this. As well as conducting waste visits in Halls of Residence to talk to students, we have an information sharing day, career talks, litter picking and other activities. During the #WAW2017 Campaign, advisors visited 287 flats in students’ halls looking at recycling behaviours, answering questions and providing recycling advice first-hand to 252 students. There were also 2 successful litter picks led by Keep Wales Tidy at the St Mary’s and Ffriddoedd Student Villages.
The news story can be found here.
The University’s Stance on Plastic
There has been a great deal of bad press recently surrounding plastics, and whilst the University fully supports reducing the use of plastics where possible, in particular problematic single-use plastics, there are many factors to consider.
Plastic is versatile, durable, flexible and cheap. It is sometimes the best or even the only material that can be used to make certain products, whilst some of it is reusable and recyclable. Plastic is not the problem, the problem is the overproduction of plastic, its overuse, its misuse, and incorrect disposal. In fact, the problem is arguably the overuse of materials in general; especially overuse of single-use products.
There are two main problem areas, which the University is working on addressing and reducing:
- Problematic plastics that cannot be reused or recycled
- Single-use items in general, regardless of material
Problematic Plastics are non-recyclable single-use plastics that contain no recycled content, have no end-of-life plan, and are likely to be littered as they are very lightweight. These items mostly contain mixed materials that are hard to separate for both technical and financial reasons. They include (but are not limited to) cotton buds, wrappers, crisp packets, chocolate wrappers, sachets, drink stirrers, disposable cutlery, straws and balloons.
Single-use items are items that have been created to be used just the once – for one occasion and only for a short period of time. They have mostly been created for convenience, but not always. Various items fall under this category, including coffee cups, drink bottles/cartons/cans, straws, pipette tips, drink stirrers, disposable cutlery, balloons etc.
The University aims to reduce the use of both but will not be changing the material used unless there is a sustainable end-of-life plan for the alternative material. For example, plastic drinking glasses are recyclable but biodegradable/compostable ones are not. We will therefore not be changing this material as it will do more harm than good. Biodegradable cups/glasses/straws cannot be recycled/composted at the University as we send our food waste to an Anaerobic Digestion (AD) facility, which cannot deal with this material. Biodegradable/compostable materials could possibly be further developed to be dealt with in an Anaerobic Digester in the future, and we will therefore continue to review our practices based on any developing technology used locally. Paper straws cannot be recycled either, as the quality of the paper is too poor, and they absorb liquids. Wooden cutlery and stirrers are also currently non-recyclable here. Our aim is therefore to reduce the use of these items.
Most of our initiatives are therefore focused on minimising or preventing problematic plastic and reducing the need and use of single-use items, regardless of material. Where single-use items are still used, work will be done to promote their possible reuse or to improve their recyclability. We believe that single-use items such as plastic cutlery should be reduced as much as possible, but if they are used, work needs to be done to change attitudes and behaviour to ensure that these items are used again and again – break the myth of single-use products.
More information on specific materials and their recyclability/compostability can be found above and in the ‘Recycling at the University’ section.
- Student Waste & Resource Action Group (SWRAG)
- Catering Circular Economy Working Group (CCEWG)
- Resource Efficient Labs Working Group (RELWG)
Updated December 2020