University students save 922 tonnes of recycling from landfill

UK university students have diverted more than 900 tonnes of recycling from landfill, following an initiative to boost recycling rates

Ten universities and students’ unions participated in the RecycleLeague competition, which was run by SOS UK on behalf of the National Union of Students, and funded by Coca-Cola.

After passing an application process, they were each given £1,800 in funding to set up initiatives to increase recycling among students and staff.

The universities competed to win £15,000 to invest in future recycling initiatives.

The competition was launched in Recycling Week in September 2019.

Over a two-month period, the universities were assessed on the increase of their recycling rates as compared to the same period in 2018, and their student and community engagement.

The average recycling rate increased by 8.3% across the universities, who recycled on average 70 tonnes more than they had in 2018.

In total, 922 tonnes of recycling were diverted from landfill across the universities.

Recycling activities across the country included a Thames litter-picking event, DIY soap-making, and cooking workshops aimed at highlighting food waste reduction.

Overall, the various campaigns engaged more than 39,000 people.

The University of Worcester won the competition, with a recycling rate increase of 28% against its 2018 baseline.

Its recycling activities were focused in its St John’s campus halls of residence and involved a video and ‘bin poll’ game.

Students visited flats around the campus, talked to them about recycling, and ensured they had an accurate poster explaining what belonged in each bin.

Katy Boom, director of sustainability at the University of Worcester, said: “Students and staff were really committed to boosting recycling efforts and are passionate about continuing its legacy moving forward.

“The activities the students undertook, particularly giving more information, proved really effective.

“Thanks to the prize money from Coca-Cola, we’re planning to run workshops with local community groups in Worcester, and we’ll be working with a local social landlord and the city council to run a similar competition for local people.”

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