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Reduce, re-use, recycle.*

03 Dec 2007

Introducing the University's new Waste Co-ordinator.

Staff are being encouraged to use more sustainable waste practices including the promotion of the 3 R's - waste reduction, re-use of materials, and recycling following the appointment of a Waste Co-ordinator.

Simon Atkinson, based in the Directorate of Estates, recently followed a bin wagon around the campus for a day and says he was amazed at the type and quantity of waste being thrown away.

Simon said: "The audit showed that although the University does do some things well, we are still throwing out a significant amount of waste that could be recycled. What is more worrying is that items such as computer monitors that are classed as hazardous waste are being thrown in the general waste and that could lead to the University being prosecuted."

The audit highlighted the need for better collection facilities both within buildings and around the campus, the need for resources to collect materials, as well as the education of staff and students.

He added: "We should be reducing the amount of waste we produce, or re-using items before considering recycling. This would save the University money, help reduce our carbon footprint, and improve our public image. Landfilling our waste should be the absolute final option.

To address these issues, the Environmental Services Unit in the Estates Directorate is setting up a website to provide guidance on how to dispose of/recycle waste responsibly and this should be up and running within the next few months.

Simon said: "There are big challenges for the University. It is estimated that we only recycle about 20% of our waste. Unfortunately we are some way behind other Universities who have had policies in place for a number of years."

To move things forward, the Unit has drafted a "Waste and Recycling Policy" with a view to it being adopted formally across the University. This would provide clear aims and objectives and show the University's commitment to this issue, one that is reinforced by the recent expansion of Professor Maynard Case's portfolio of responsibilities as Associate Vice-President to include "Sustainability".

According to Simon, people's attitudes to waste vary enormously but he is constantly contacted by people who want to see improvements at the University and are willing to play their part. There are already some good examples that can be found around the University including recycling facilities in the new Arthur Lewis Building and the Alan Turing Building.

Simon Atkinson can be contacted at simon.atkinson@manchester.ac.uk or on x65963.