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.

Half of the waste is now segregated for recycling on site, with a further percentage separated and sent for recycling off site. 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.

Waste management working group

Chaired by Dr Philip Longhurst, this group is responsible for setting and overseeing projects to reduce waste and to increase source-segregated recycling on campus.

Waste types

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

Food waste

All food waste from our Cranfield campus catering outlets 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, methane which is converted, via a generator, into electricity for the National Grid and heat used within the plant's processes. In the future it is intended for food waste to be treated on site by the research scale anaerobic digester on campus.

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

End of year student move-out donation 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 donation which is handed over to a Bedford-based food bank.

Recycling centre

Through our campus recycling centre everyone has an opportunity to recycle or donate items for reuse, from cans to clothes, throughout the year.

Pledge to reduce paper waste

Did you know that 44% of waste in the UK that goes to landfill is paper? This is enough to fill 103,000 double decker buses. 4 billion or 35% of the total trees cut around the world are being used in paper industries on every continent, so it is more important than ever to make the small changes that will have a big impact.