Get involved in #WasteNott: Our campaign to reduce single-use plastic on campus

We’re making a number of changes to help reduce single-use plastic on campus, including introducing a levy on disposable hot drink cups and installing more water coolers around campus.

In May 2018 we asked our staff and students to inform us of their thoughts on the amount of single-use plastic thrown away each year on campus. We had an incredible response.

More than 99% of the people who responded — over 3,000 respondents in total — said they want to help reduce single-use plastic waste. The majority went even further in suggesting ways they could personally support waste reduction.

A working group (involving representatives from the sustainability team, Faculty of Science, catering and procurement and the Students’ Union) has assessed all of the responses and used them to shape a number of challenging targets that we can all get involved with.

Today we’re launching these targets as part of a dedicated new campaign: ‘#WasteNott’.

The WasteNott campaign sets out a number of actions that we can all take to help meet targets developed from feedback left in the survey. These are big changes that could add up to make an ever bigger difference. You can find details of the campaign at our new microsite.

The initial phase of the campaign will focus on selected key areas identified in the survey – with targets developed based on respondent feedback. Our initial focus will be on high impact areas – such as single-use plastic bottles, plastic cutlery and straws, and coffee cups.

To help support a more sustainable approach, we will install more water coolers around campus and make reusable drinks cups available at all University catering outlets. Other actions include introducing a levy on disposable hot drink cups. Any income from the levy will be used to find projects to reduce our waste output, including subsidising reusable cups.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Shearer West said: “Our research has a well-deserved reputation for supporting a more sustainable planet in greener sources of energy, food supply and construction. It is only right that our daily campus activity reflects this.

Reducing the amount of single-use plastics on campus is an important part of our wider global outlook, ethical values and commitment to environmental sustainability – small changes in our daily behaviours can deliver significant lasting benefits.”

Find out how to get involved at nottingham.ac.uk/wasteNott.

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13 Comments

September 18th, 2018 at 12:49 pm

Lolly

Well perhaps you should think about the amount of plastic waste incurred by takeaway coffee from places like Starbucks on campus, the way food is prepackaged in campus cafes, and takeaway containers (polysterene containers used for takeaways at the Aspire). Maybe greater incentives need to be provided for the less concerned.

September 19th, 2018 at 9:46 am

Christine

I’ve been asking for a reusable option to the takeaway containers in the SB campus cafeteria for nearly 2 years now – still waiting for answer. The current plastic takeaway containers are recyclable, but it would be far more sustainable if I could bring my own container – even if it meant having to buy a Sodexo approved container.

September 19th, 2018 at 2:54 pm

jasper robinson

University Catering supplied our admissions days with individual UHT milk cartons and disposable cups. Not only were they non-recyclable and single use, they ended up contaminating the recycling waste because there was too much to fit in the landfill bin.

How about arranging with our preferred suppliers to return bulky packaging for re-use, at least for commonly used items (e.g., standard Lenovo equipment, which includes a lot of polystyrene)?

September 19th, 2018 at 3:56 pm

Steven

In my nearest cafe outlet on campus, almost every item is encapsulated in plastic – crisps, snacks, sandwiches, salads and drinks. Fresh fruit is the sole exception and hot food is offered in polystyrene boxes with plastic cutlery. The nearby vending machine also only contains plastic-wrapped products. Has there been any consideration of sustainable supplies for such outlets?

September 19th, 2018 at 4:05 pm

Jon Slack

The cafe on E floor in the Medical School is still dispensing single-use plastic cutlery. The restaurant on D floor has changed to wooden ones (presumably made of sustainable wood), which is great, but our ‘green university’ accolades are let down by the plastic ones in use.

September 20th, 2018 at 8:26 am

Sanna

The Starbucks in the George Green library recently stopped giving discounts, when you bring a reusable coffee mug that is not Starbucks or UoN branded. Has this been revisited?

September 21st, 2018 at 9:23 am

brzrcb1

Hi Sanna. George Green is a University outlet, so the #WasteNott levy and discount pricing structure will apply – and any reusable cup can be used. If you have any issues requesting a hot drink in a reusable cup, please let us know by emailing wastenott@nottingham.ac.uk. Thanks – Rebecca

September 20th, 2018 at 9:41 am

Caroline

Why have you stopped using the excellent compostable cups which were available for a short while in the Exchange Building on Jubilee Campus? Given that we have extensive gardens on campus so composting on site is viable, this was a promising initiative.
Are the University of Nottingham plastic cups you are currently using recyclable?

September 20th, 2018 at 9:56 am

Shelly Rigby

The compostable cups which Caroline mentions seem like a great idea. These should be rolled out across campus and specialist bins made available to dispose of them. Great idea that they could then go into our own gardens. If a big thing was made of it I think everyone, students and staff alike would do this. I hate the rows and rows of plastic bottles available for meal deals in the Spar shop and Boots in Portland. What about cans instead?

September 20th, 2018 at 2:55 pm

Tanya

The Coates café has single use plastic cutlery. These could be replaced by wooden ones as someone above suggested has been done elsewhere.
The jacket potato fillings are handed out in plastic disposable containers – why not just spoon them directly into the potato?! No container needed at all
The bread rolls are double wrapped in cling film and then a plastic bag. In a supermarket when you buy individual rolls they are unwrapped and you use tongs to serve yourself. No wrapping needed.

September 20th, 2018 at 9:19 pm

Kerry Williamson

Every reduction effort is to be applauded but like some of the other commentators I have found that common sense seems in short supply, in my local restaurant you can take your own container for a salad – but it’s all ‘measured out’ in a plastic cup which is then discarded. Some further joined up thinking is needed. Thanks for the new water coolers, definitely needed when out and about.

September 24th, 2018 at 9:39 am

Diane

I think the water coolers are a great starting point, but equally agree that there is more to be done.
Working on the recent University Open Day, I was disappointed that Trent Café only had disposable plastic cutlery. If we are to truly showcase our University as a Green University, surely open days would be an obvious place to do so.

October 18th, 2018 at 2:48 pm

Jill Bennett

I have been wondering for some time what happens to the plastic trays/lids that sandwiches arrive in from delivered catering. Am I correct in thinking that the components of the buffet menus are supplied by an external company, and not made in-house? If so, are the trays returned to the company or re-used? I wonder how many hundreds of these trays are used each day across our campuses? I would really appreciate some insight on this.

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