The University of Reading has a fantastic track record on waste and resource use – in 2023 we were ranked the best University in the UK and Europe for UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12: Responsible Consumption and Reduction (please see this blog for further details).
We divert 98.8% of waste from landfill – up from 98.3% last year. We now produce 41kg of waste per person on campus – which is down from 62kg in 2015/16, 35% below our 2015/16 baseline. 62% of our waste was reused or sent for recycling or composting in 2022/23. Further information about our work in this area can be found in our latest Environmental Sustainability Report 2022-23.
Recent months have required the implementation of new legislative requirements which mean that we have to identify and collect waste upholstered domestic seating that may contain persistent organic pollutants (POPs). This is to ensure these items are disposed of responsibly and prevents the release of POPs or any subsequent contamination of other waste. The University are also now required to collect separately hazardous wood (chemically treated such as creosote treated wood) so that it can be disposed of safely.
The Sustainability team have also been focusing on the collection of other waste streams for recycling:
– Vape bins will soon be located in the Reading Students Union and Library to enable the collection of disposable and other types of vapes.
– A carton recycling scheme has been launched for catering facilities so that items such as Tetrapaks can be collected and sent to a specialist recycling plant. Cartons are made from laminated layers of cardboard, plastic and sometimes metal film so cannot be recycled alongside our existing dry mixed recycling.
– In the coming months a trial will begin for the collection and recycling of expanded polystyrene which is commonly found in packaging.
– The URS building is currently undergoing a major refurbishment programme. URS was previously home many items and Paul Taylor (our waste expert in the Sustainability team) has been co-ordinating the redistribution of many of these items so they can be reused. For example 260 classroom chairs will be reused in teaching rooms in other buildings, replacing older or broken chairs and 28 white tables will be stored for future use by Architecture.
Focus on re use
The University follows the principles of the waste hierarchy and after reducing the amount of waste generated we focus on the reuse of waste. We have the Warpit reuse portal which enables members of staff to exchange unwanted good condition items with colleagues. This is free and allows the redistribution of resources. This could be University furniture, office accessories and stationary. Visit Warp-it for further information. Anyone with a University of Reading staff email address can register to use it.
Find out more
We encourage all staff and students to consult our extensive A to Z on our website which details all the items we can and can’t recycle.
Find out more about how the University of Reading manages waste and resources in our webinar – where Paul Taylor and Jo Merry from the Sustainability team discuss and answer commonly asked questions.