Reduce, reuse, recycle

If we want to be truly ethical and sustainable consumers we need to do more to reduce, reuse and recycle the waste that we produce in our daily lives.

You can make sure you’re making the most environmentally waste choices by following the waste hierarchy, below, depending on the situation you’re in. For example, if it’s too late to avoid the production of waste, can you reuse or recycle the item to avoid it going to landfill?

  • Reduce

    Reduction is when you prevent waste from being produced in the first place, such as by avoiding food waste or choosing to use a reusable coffee cup.

    You can make the choice to reduce waste and avoid sending waste to landfill and reduce to consumption of materials in producing items. Reduce is at the top of the waste hierarchy because it is the most environmentally friendly approach to waste management.

    Water Refill Stations map

    Did you know that in the UK 7.7 billion plastic water bottles are used each year (2018 figure)? Reduce your plastic bottle consumption by refilling your bottle at our water stations across campus. 90% of our drinking fountains are provided through a contract with AquAid, who help to bring clean, fresh drinking water to impoverished communities in Africa.

    Reusable coffee cups

    2.5 billion single use coffee cups are thrown away each year in the UK. You can help reduce this number by buying a reusable coffee cup, especially if you’re a coffee shop regular!

    If you use a reusable cup you can also avoid the disposable cup charge. Our cafés across campus charge an extra cost on top of the stated price, if customers need a single use cup.

    Food waste

    Food waste is a significant contributor to waste and carbon emissions around the world. To learn about how you can recycle your food waste through aerobic and anaerobic digesters, visit our food waste reduction, redistribution, and recycling page.

  • Reuse

    By reusing items, you can stop good quality items going to waste and save energy and raw materials by reducing the demand for new items.


    Join our community of fellow Sussex staff and students who are using our new online platform, WarpIt, to donate pre-loved items to new places on campus.

    Using WarpIt can help you and others to avoid the need to buy brand new products. This in turn can allow us all to:

    • save money to invest and spend on other things
    • reduce the amount of waste going to landfill or incineration, and the pollution this causes
    • protect our environment by preventing the need to extract the resources and energy required to manufacture brand new items
    • save time finding the items you need on campus, rather than having to travel to collect them elsewhere
    • help others who may not be able to afford things that they need.

    It only takes two minutes to sign up on our dedicated WarpIt page and start listing and claiming items in an easy and cost effective way. Anyone with a Sussex, BSMS, SEF, or IDS email address can sign up.

    Visit the SEF webpages for more information on using WarpIt.

    British Heart Foundation

    Do you have unwanted clothes, books or toys in good condition? Why not donate them so that they can be reused?

    There are several clothes bins for donating to the British Heart Foundation charity across campus. All you need to do is bag and bin your donatable items.

    Check out these BHF resources to help you decide whether to donate or keep an item and to find out what not to donate.

  • Recycle

    If you aren’t able to avoid producing waste and aren’t able to reuse it, recycling is a good way to ensure that the materials in the item can be used again to make something new!

    Recycling is better than the item going to landfill, or to incineration at an Energy From Waste facility, because creating new items from recycled material means that less energy and resources are used than if it was made from raw materials.

    What and where to recycle

    Have you heard that if you’re not sure if you can recycle something, then you should put it in the recycling as it can be separated out later? This is called wish recycling and it’s actually a myth! Putting non-recyclable waste into recycling bins can contaminate the recyclables in the bin, meaning that the recyclable waste has to go to landfill.

    Make sure you’re recycling the right things by checking out our Campus recycling A-Z. Find out where to go to recycle on campus with our Recycling map.

    The student society Leave No Trace collect a range of waste that you cannot recycle in the recycling bins on our campus. Visit their stall to increase the waste you are recycling and volunteer with them to help others increase recycling on campus.

    To find out what you can recycle in Brighton, and how to recycle a wider variety of items, check out the Green Centre who collect a range of ‘non-recyclable’ items at the Open Market in Brighton.

    Food waste

    When you can’t avoid creating food waste, either on campus or in your accommodation, you can dispose of it properly to make sure that it goes to aerobic or anaerobic digestion, rather than landfill or energy recovery. To find out more about this, visit our food waste reduction, redistribution, and recycling page.

University of Sussex Waste Policy and Strategy

Our Waste Action Plan

ActionCo-ownerTarget delivery date

1. Set target to recycle 50% of our waste by 2025 (subject to further compositional analysis)


June 2021 to set targets and August 2025 to achieve them

2. Set target to reduce the volume of weight produced per student by 10% by 2025
3. Set annual recycling targets for all of our waste streams Scott Noble (Head of Service Delivery Estates and Facilities Management)

August 2022

4. Tender our waste contracts, ensuring appropriate recycling targets and innovation are included within them

December 2022

5. Review of our current bin numbers, locations and signage

December 2021

6. Launch a waste and recycling communications and engagement plan by August 2022 that will enable us to recruit a network of waste champions to help support and promote recycling and create behaviour change

August 2022

7. Produce policies on plastic and project waste reduction

December 2022

Get involved

Are you passionate about waste and helping others to reduce, reuse and recycle their waste? We’re looking for volunteers to be Waste Champions and help their schools, departments, and/or residences to reduce their impact.

Find out more.