Waste and recycling

We recycled 40 per cent of our waste in 2014-15 - and have reduced our waste by 12 per cent since 2011.

Our commitment

To reduce the amount of waste generated per staff and student, and to increase the proportion of waste recycled.

We aim to:

  • Recycle 70 per cent of our waste by 2020
  • Reduce the amount of waste generated per student to 20kg or below by 2020 
  • Raise awareness around waste and recycling for students and staff. 

Our performance:

  • In 2014–15, we generated 30kg of waste per student.
  • In 2014–15 we recycled 40 per cent of our waste. 
  • In 2013, we introduced food waste composting from the catering kitchens, in 2014–15 we composted 9 tonnes, a 46 per cent increase since the year before. 
Information on recycling facilities

There are facilities across campus for you to recycle you waste. For more information on this, please read the information on the Waste and Recycling page on the Environment Community intranet pages.

The campus waste depot

We have a dedicated team of staff on campus who manage our waste in the waste depot on campus. The depot is a hub of activity where the team collect the waste from the bins around campus. But it doesn't stop there. They take apart broken chairs, desks and bits of furniture to separate wood, plastic and metal. And they collect electrical waste - officially known as Waste Electrical & Electronic Equipment (WEEE) - to maximise recycling.

We stop waste that has the potential for a second life from reaching the waste depot. With an extensive furniture store on campus, we store furniture until it can be redistributed to other University offices. This reduces waste, and reduces University spending on furniture. Some of the items which aren't suitable for our offices any more are sold to other users.

Our University electrical waste is collected by a WEEE waste specialist in Plymouth. They have a trained team of specialists who refurbish over 3,000 large electrical items every month from the local area. All items which can be reused are refurbished, saved from landfill and given a second life. Items which are beyond repair are dismantled and the components recycled. In the UK one million tonnes of WEEE waste is produced a year. This would fill a line of lorries from Land’s End to John O’Groats.

Nearly 30 per cent of us in the UK throw away electrical items in the bin, which is more than likely going to end in landfill. But if you dispose of it properly it can be refurbished and resold, or recycled, containing many valuable parts.

Plymouth University provide two routes for you to recycle University electrical waste and departmental electrical waste. For more information on this, please read the information on the Waste and Recycling page on the Environment Community intranet pages (log-in required). 

Food waste

We want to remove food waste as much as possible from the University. In 2013, we introduced food composting from the catering outlets and in 2014–15 we collected 8.9 tonnes of food waste. All food waste produced is recorded, and then taken to an anaerobic digester at Langage farm. The University reduces food waste by donating near date food to local charities.

Plymouth University has a dedicated student led group, UNICYCLE, who redistribute food resources that would otherwise go to waste. They are currently working with UPSU, the George House homeless hostel, Devon and Cornwall Food Association (DCFA) and Plymouth Food Partnership.

All of our disposables are fully compostable and our used cooking oil is collected and turned into biofuels.

Furniture store

We have a furniture reuse store on campus, where all furniture that is no longer needed due to office moves, and that is still in a useable condition, is stored for future use. The 240m2 space is full of reusable office furniture from desks and shelves to swivel chairs. Our campus is very short on available space so this is a great asset for waste management. It is estimated that our reuse store has saved £80,000 in furniture costs in the year 2013-14 and £102,908 in 2014-15. Any furniture that comes into the store that is no longer suitable for our use is collected by a local charity for resale. Furniture that is no longer fit for purpose is dissembled in our yard for recycling.

Our recycling bins

Our recycling facilities are changing! From early February 2018 we are adopting a mixed recycling collection scheme, meaning that all recyclable materials (except glass) can be mixed together in the same recycling bin across main campus. We are hoping this will remove any confusion about which bin to use, and hopefully increase the amount of recyclables we divert from the waste stream.

What can go in the mixed recycling bins? 

Paper and cardboard items
Office paper
Junk mail

Milk bottles and other plastic drink bottles
Clear plastic food trays
Plastic lids
Yoghurt pots
Fruit punnets
Disposable drink cup lids (not the cups)

Metal lids
Drink cans
Food tins
Foil trays
Clean tin foil
Biscuit and cake tins

Please flatten cardboard items and drain beverage items first.

What can’t be recycled and should go in the non-recyclable bins?

Food including tea bags, banana skins etc
Disposable hot drink cups
Shiny foil gift wrap
Paper towels
Black plastic food trays
Cling film
Crisp packets
Plastic bags
Plastic film
Drink cartons
Foil lined food packets
Dirty foil
Crisp and sweet wrappers

For glass please take this to the bottle bank located in Scott Car Park. 

For more information about this and where to recycle your other more specialist waste such as batteries or electrical goods please go to the Environment Community intranet pages.

Use your reusable cup at our campus cafes 

Our goal is to reduce the number of disposables cups used and then disposed of on campus. It’s estimated that 2.5 billion paper coffee cups are being thrown away in the UK every year. That’s almost 5,000 a minute, or 7 million per day.

From the 10 September 2018 use a reusable cup at our campus cafes and get a 20p discount. 

Cut waste, cut carbon, save money 

Terms and conditions apply*

Leading the charge against plastic pollution

The University is at the forefront of international research into the causes and impacts of marine litter and is now taking action to reduce the plastic waste generated on its campuses

Read more about our Plan for Plastics