Skipchen food waste recycling

Waste recycling and re-use


2020 strategy targets:

  • UWE Bristol to embrace the circular economy - a sustainable alternative to a traditional linear economy (make, use, dispose) in which we keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them while in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life.
  • UWE Bristol to achieve a 95% recovery and recycling rate by 2020.

Increasing re-use - circular economy in practice

The following initiatives represent adoption of circular economy principles in management of the University's material resources:

UWE Bristol furniture re-use scheme: whereby our unwanted furniture can be advertised and claimed by staff members for use at UWE Bristol, at home or by a charity. In 2016/17, the reallocation of furniture and equipment led to an estimated annual saving to UWE Bristol of £113,000, an increase of £33,000 on the 2014/2015 savings derived of £80,000.  For further information email the team at

Annual Big Give campaign: held from April until June at the end of the academic year in which unwanted items and food are collected from students in halls and private accommodation across the city. By mid-point in the campaign at the end of May 2018, 5,463 bags were collected, the equivalent of a notional figure of £80,000 income from sale of items collected by the British Heart Foundation.

Office de-clutter proactive initiatives: major staff office moves are potential generators of large quantities of additional waste and we aim to minimise this by having de-clutter days. In 2017 the relocation of 600 staff from Buildings 650 and 435, into Northavon House, generated an estimated 15 tonnes of material, around 90% of which was reused or recycled.

A note on compostable food packaging: the University’s Hospitality operations are increasingly moving to the use of compostable food containers and cups. This comes with its challenges: to set up separate waste streams and to communicate to the customer effectively, so that the material goes into the right bins, complicated by the fact that not all our disposable containers are compostable.

Reduce, reuse, recycle, recover facts

Our figures for 2016/17 are as represented:

Reduce Reuse Recycle Recover diagram

Where does our recycling go?

Our main material streams are recycled as follows:

Paper and card - go to Bath as the first point of call, then on to various paper mills in the UK for turning back into paper products.

Plastics and cans - go to Bath for initial sorting, then cans go to make new metal items at factories within UK and plastics go on for further sorting.

Glass – bulked up in Bath and then shipped to Portugal for reprocessing into other glass products.

Food waste – used by GENeco to generate electricity for Bristol’s street lights.

What you can do

  • Support The Students' Union #plasticdetox campaign - avoid single use plastics and use a reusable water bottle and coffee cup.
  • Buy a reusable bamboo cup at cost for £6 in our cafes and get 20p off hot drinks if you use it instead of a takeaway cup.
  • De-clutter your office using the Office de-clutter guide for helpful tips.
  • Check the A-Z listing for recycling for advice on how to recycle 24 different items.
  • Cut food waste by using leftover food, for recipes visit Love Food Hate Waste.
  • Use the kitchen waste recycling bins in all cafes, staff offices and student accommodation.

Student support and study projects

We are keen for students to use our waste and resource management system, (a live repetitive system) as a living learning laboratory for your study projects, research or dissertations. We can support you by providing advice on developing project ideas, data, and waste and resource management industry contacts.

Here are examples of study projects which have helped us to improve the sustainability of UWE Bristol:

  • Analysis of recycling volumes and student behaviours in campus accommodation.
  • Measurement and analysis of littering on campus.
  • Feasibility study for diversion of food and green waste to an in-vessel composter.
  • Mapping internal recycling provision.
  • Development of a communication campaign aimed at reducing single-use plastic.

There are also opportunities for volunteering, student placements and internships. Contact our Waste and Resources manager Paul Roberts at for more information.  

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