COVID-19 Sparks Scheme to Make Campus Life More Sustainable

The University of York has invested in 25 specialised recycling bins to combat increased use of single-use cups during COVID 19.

New cup-shed bin for reusable cups, from top

The University of York has once again invested in a scheme to make campus life more sustainable, placing 25 recycling bins in the shape of giant cups across campus, as a result of the increased use of single-use cups on campus during COVID-19. 

Launched earlier this month, and designed for single use plastic cups only, the contents are collected weekly by Forge Recycling, where the single use cups are taken to be repurposed.

Following the success of the YORCUP “loan” scheme introduced in 2018, which prevented approximately 72,300 single-use cups from going to landfill, the University has now taken another step to combat excess waste on campus. 

Recycled cups create a high quality paper fibre, which can then be transformed into all manner of paper products, from paper shopping bags and packaging, to writing paper.

The scheme is just one of the sustainable initiatives launched by the Commercial Services team at the University of York, using funds raised by the Latte Levy (a 20p charge for the use of disposable cups in campus catering outlets).

The Levy has raised £22,513 since its launch in January 2019.

This decision comes as a result of the increase in use of single-use cups on campus, due to the safety regulations implemented in campus catering outlets during COVID-19. 

Although the outlets are now able to offer reusable cups again, the University saw this as an opportunity to find an alternative way of making daily life for students and staff more sustainable. 

Jon Greenwood, Director of Commercial Services, said: “whilst COVID-19 is taking our focus at the moment we are not losing sight of our commitment to a sustainable campus and I am pleased to announce further progress with our single use cup recycling scheme.”

Jo Hossell, Sustainability & Inclusivity Engagement Officer said “this great recycling initiative is further evidence of the progress that the University is making to actively demonstrate and encourage sustainability amongst staff, students and visitors on campus.”

The YORCUP campaign has successfully reached the finals of the Green Gown Awards UK and Ireland 2020, in the category of Campus Health, Food and Drink. The awards recognise exceptional sustainability initiatives being undertaken by Universities and Colleges, and the YORCUP submission showcased the many outstanding benefits associated with the scheme.

Chris Hayle, Commercial Manager from Forge Recycling, added: “we are tremendously excited to be working with the University of York to improve their environmental performance by recycling paper cups. Historically, paper cups have been difficult to recycle due to how they are manufactured. However, we are making this possible by working with processors who can separate the thin plastic coating inside each cup from the paper itself, allowing both parts to be recycled.”

More information can be found about the University’s efforts to promote sustainable production and consumption can be found here.