In 2020, the University committed to a new target for ‘Zero Avoidable Waste’ by 2030. The aim is to minimise waste ending up in landfill or incineration and to embrace the application of circular economy principles.

The management of waste has improved significantly since the baseline year 2010. The University also worked to increase the proportion of waste going for recycling, composting and anaerobic digestion through providing a wider range of facilities for segregation into individual recyclable waste streams and corresponding internal bin facilities.

There has been significant progress in the reduction of waste on campus, especially with disposable plastics. There is also a focus on making sure items get passed on for reuse where possible. For the latest progress and KPIs, please see our latest annual report.


We have taken action to reduce the amount of single use plastic items on campus, such as disposable plastic cups for water. We have also worked with our catering teams to reduce the use of single use plastics.

As standard, all printers are set to print double-sided to save paper. Staff and students are encouraged to share documents online rather than print.


Through partnerships with reuse organisations such as UniGreenScheme and Reyooz we regularly donate furniture and equipment for other organisations to use, giving them a second life, and diverting them from disposal.

We encourage staff and students to reuse on campus by offering 25p discounts on Costa Coffee if they bring their own cup. Flasks and reusable water bottles are available to buy on campus. Free cooled water is available in lecture rooms and elsewhere on campus.

We have clothing banks on campus for the Salvation Army (located in the CSA recycling centre) and British Heart Foundation (located near halls of residence) for unwanted, good quality clothing.

Recycling and disposal

Over 20 different waste types are segregated on the Cranfield campus, which are then processed off site. These include plastic bottles, cans, batteries, paper, coffee cups, Vegware takeaway boxes, confidential waste, newspapers, cardboard, metals, wood, glass, garden waste, food, coffee grounds, plasterboard, rubble, waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), fridges, fluorescent tubes, toner cartridges, cooking oil, clothing, hazardous waste, bulky waste and general waste.

Some of these items will require special collection if the facility is not provided. Staff and students are asked to check signage before disposal.

Food waste

Food waste from our Cranfield campus catering outlets, student accommodation and office kitchens is separated from general waste and taken to an anaerobic digestion plant off site. The plant produces organic fertiliser which is used on growing crops, and methane which is converted, via a generator, into electricity for the National Grid and to power the plant.

Food waste caddies are provided in kitchens throughout the campus. Please ensure that these are used for food waste only.

For ideas on ways to reduce food waste, please see our blog entry.

End of year student move-out scheme

At the end of the academic year, students are given the opportunity to donate their unwanted items before they leave their accommodation. We are currently working with the British Heart Foundation and have set up several donation points on campus with some available throughout the year. We also encourage food donations which are given to a local food bank.

Recycling centre

We have a recycling centre located behind the CSA (opposite the Vincent Building). This is open to the staff and student community.

Waste and Resources Codes of Practice