Since April 2001, De Montfort University has been running a recycling scheme to help the environment. The scheme started with recycling paper and reusing envelopes. In December 2002 the scheme was extended to include the collection and recycling of cardboard waste, glossy paper and newspaper. In 2004, 149 tons of paper, cardboard and glossy paper were recycled, an increase of 12% on the previous year. Further expansion took place in 2005 with the recycling of cans and plastics which resulted in 164 tons being collected. In 2006 the recycling of CD’s/DVD’s was started. The key performance indicator set in 2009 required that by the end of 2012 60% of waste is to be recycled on campus, with the general waste reducing by the same amount.
The paper recycling scheme set up by the Estates Department has seen over 10,750 bags of waste paper, the equivalent of 2,420 trees, collected annually since 2001. On average, 10 tons of paper is collected each month (figures from 2007) thank to all staff and students who have contributed to the success of this scheme.
Currently the University generates around £13k per year from recycling material, along with saving in excess of £40k from waste and landfill charges. The furniture recycling store that is in operation saves the University on average about £75k per year that would have been spent on new furniture. This shows how recycling [and therefore being green and environmentally responsible] has also financial benefits.
The Bin-less scheme at DMU
Although we have recycling schemes in place, still too many materials that could be recycled have been going in waste bins. In order to improve our performance and start to change our culture, an office waste recycling programme is being rolled out on campus. The scheme works by removing all waste bins from offices with a bank of recycling/general waste bins being installed. At the present time this programme have been fully implemented in certain buildings only, but the plan is to extend it to all Campus. Where this scheme has been implemented, DMU achieved an increase in recycling rate by over 60%.
What is recycled at DMU?
- Batteries: D, C, AA, AAA, 9 Volt, and Button –> to be sent to Gateway House
On average a person uses 21 batteries a year, all of which need to be recycled [why is it important to recycle batteries? here the explanation]. Around 600 million batteries [22,000 tonnes], the weight equivalent of 110 Jumbo Jets, are unnecessarily sent to landfill every year. By the way, when buying batteries why don’t you choose re-usable one?! They’re a lot more green!
- CDs and DVDs –> to be sent to Gateway House
- Cans: Drink cans –> bin made in cardboard
If all the aluminium drinks can sold in the UK were recycled, there would be 14 million fewer full dustbins per year. If all the aluminium cans recycled in the UK in 1998 were laid end to end, they would stretch from Land’s End to John O’Groats more than 160 times. 75% of all drink cans are made of aluminium. Amazingly, recycling aluminium requires only 5% of the energy it takes to make new aluminium, and produces only 5% of the CO2 emissions. Just one recycled aluminium cans saves enough energy to run a television for three hours! And do you know how many times can aluminium be recycled!? INFINITELY
- Cardboard: Computer boxes, Stationary boxes, Thin or coated cards, Cereal boxes
When recycling cardboard look for the bin with the yellow lid at DMU!
- Paper: Glossy Paper, Newspaper, Books, Phone Directories, Catalogues, Leaflets, Journals, Photocopy Paper, Non Glossy Paper, Pencil sharpening, Sugar Paper, Envelopes with and without Windows [after having reused them for internal mail], Coloured & plain paper
On average, each person in the UK uses over 200kg of paper per year, 61% of this is recycled, however it is estimated that up to 79% can be achievable. Recycled paper made up 75.5% of the raw materials for UK newspapers in 2004. UK uses 12.5 million tonnes of paper and cardboard every year. Recovered paper can be made into all sorts of new products, such as newspaper, magazines, printer paper, cardboard, and toilet paper…! Recycled paper was first made in 1801, a lot earlier than wood-based paper.
When recycling paper look for the bin with the blue lid at DMU!
- Plastic: Plastic Carry bags, Drink Bottles(without tops), Drink Bottles tops, Bubble wrap, Shrink wrap (cling Film), Hard Plastics (cd cases, plastic trays), Sandwich Packets (no food), Crisp packets (no crisps in them), Empty yoghurt pots
- What cannot be recycled: Any plastic which has food still contained within it, Polystyrene
UK produces 3 million tonnes of plastic waste each year. Approximately 85% is landfilled, 8% incinerated and 7% recycled. Recycling just one plastic bottles saves enough energy to power a 60Watt light bulb for 6 hours or to power a computer for 25 minutes. Plastic can take up to 400 years to break down in landfill.
- Glass –> blue recycling bin in each kitchen
- Coffee jars, Glass jars, Glass milk bottles, Wine bottles, Glass bottles, Beer bottles
- Computers –> ask ITMS
- Fluorescent lighting
A recycling scheme to safely dispose of tubes and lamps has been successfully implemented at the University. Estates Department have been collecting spent lamps since March 2003, recycle more than 4,000 a year. If not safely disposed of, the lamps can leak potentially lethal substances such as mercury into the water systems if simply dumped at a landfill site. The used tubes are collected in specifically designed containers and collected by a specialist recycling company. Every part of the lamp can be recycled including both the glass and metal. The tubes and lamps are recycled in such a way as to prevent the mercury being released into the environment as exhaust air.
- Ink cartridge
- Mobile phones –> be sent to Gateway House
Most people replace their mobile phones every 18 months but the average phone lasts 8 years. Around 105 million mobile phones are replaced in Europe every year. Around 90 million old mobile phones lie unused in the UK. Some mobile phones contain the most dangerous non-biodegradable toxic substances in the world. The best solution for the environment is for mobile phones to be repaired and reused whenever possible or broken down for spare parts. In the developing world mobile phones can make an enormous difference to people’s quality of life by improving communication networks.
DMU now recycle all types of wood and have a permanent wood skip on campus. However the wooden pallets are still delivered to seven different local allotment societies. The implementation of the wooden pallet scheme is carried out by working closely with the users of the University buildings and the local community. Pallets that are collected from around the campus by Porterage staff are delivered to a community allotment society. This is then transformed into fences, sheds and compost bins. This has proved invaluable to Society with over 75% of the garden sheds being built, from the reclaimed wood supplied by the University. Last year the University supplied over 14 tons of reused wood for this project, which as enabling the project to continue successfully over the last three years, as well as reducing the waste going to landfill. This project brings significant benefits to the University both in savings on disposal of waste, along with working with and supporting the local community.
The University now have a clothing bank on campus located in the main staff car park, just of the main island. The University will be working in partnerships with the Fire Fighters Charity. Every year, thousands of fire fighters are injured whilst protecting the public. Every 30 seconds in the UK, fire fighters are called to an incident, putting their lives on the line, and often sustaining physical injuries whilst carrying out their duties .The Fire Fighters Charity is there for fire fighters during their times of need, and assists over 13,500 individuals every year by providing pioneering treatment and support services. The items that can be placed into the clothing bank are: Clothing, Shoes, Old Fabric. From the recycling scheme, the wearable items are sent to Third World countries to help those who are experiencing situations resulting in extreme poverty. However the un-wearable items are recycled into other day-to-day products such as car insulation and furniture padding.
Looks like DMU is doing already a lot to reduce its waste production and recycle as much as possible. Of course, as always in situation like this, the contribution of each one of us is very important, so please do your bit! Recycle and think twice before using and throwing away things!
What do you think about DMU scheme for waste reduction? Do you think there would be space for improvement?
The text and the images of the present post are reproduced with the permission of De Montfort University.