50% of waste recycled by 2025

We have all been moved by the images of plastic in the ocean and appalled by the volume of unwanted food waste as children go hungry. Waste is an emotive issue. 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 from our daily lives.

That is why we are introducing two ambitious waste reduction, reuse and recycling targets. The first is to reduce the total volume of waste produced. We will do this by setting a target of reducing the volume of weight produced per student by 10% by 2025.

The second is to recycle 50% of our waste by 2025*. This includes separate sub-targets of recycling 55% of residential waste and 70% of non-residential waste over the same time period. By setting these stretching and challenging targets for ourselves as an institution, we aim to be at the forefront of tackling the waste problem and promoting a more circular economy.

To achieve these targets, we will improve the quality of our waste data by amending our contract with Sussex Estates and Facilities (SEF) to require more detailed waste reporting and to enable us to set annual targets on all of our waste streams from August 2022 based on regular waste audits and compositional analysis.

We will then look to tender our waste contracts by December 2022 and ensure that all of these targets are passed down the supply chain to our subcontractors as key performance indicators with appropriate reporting requirements. We will also use these procurements to ask for new innovation in our recycling approaches.

Yet, how much waste we can reduce and recycle will largely come down to the quality of the facilities that we provide, our communication and engagement activity and our subsequent ability to drive positive behaviour change.

That is why we will ask SEF to undertake a review of our current bin numbers, locations and signage by December 2021 so that we can make the necessary business case for any improvements in signage, facilities or replacement, such as additional aerobic digestors for student food waste.

We will also develop a waste and recycling strategic communications and engagement plan that will enable us to:

  • Recruit a network of waste champions to help support and promote recycling
  • Engage students in competitions to design better recycling information
  • Include recycling information in staff and student inductions
  • Highlight and support pre-existing reuse activities, such as donations to local charities and clothes swaps on campus.

All of this communication and engagement work will be underpinned by the production of a policy on plastic and waste reduction and reuse, and a project-waste recycling policy for the University and our contractors by December 2022.

*This target is provisional, subject to a full compositional waste analysis to understand current recycling practices that has not been possible during the production of this strategy due to Covid-19.