Campus wide waste audit shocks Falmouth and Exeter students into action

Supporting Sustainability Projects

Campus wide waste audit shocks Falmouth and Exeter students into action


You might have a huge number of recycling bins across your campus, but how sure can you be that people are using them effectively?

At Falmouth and Exeter Students’ Union, students involved in The Green Living Project teamed up with the Raw Foundation to carry out a full two days waste audit across their Penryn campus.

The results were shocking.

  • 250kg of waste was collected over 2 days, 205kg was in general waste bags, and only 45kg in recycling.
  • 56 per cent of the recycling bags were contaminated with liquid or food, taking the total waste that would be sent to landfill up to 224.5kg (90 per cent).
  • 96 per cent of the general waste bags contained materials that could be recycled. 30 per cent of the total waste was compostable, with potential for large carbon savings
  • 9 per cent of the total waste was made up of recyclable plastic.
  • 450 coffee cups, even without the main coffee bar being included in the audit.

“I was so surprised at how much single use plastic wasn’t getting recycled”, explained student auditor Helena Daborn, “and I was really encouraged to see what we could do on campus to start eliminating the plastic and start being more sustainable”.

Undoubtedly, the audit has found massive areas of improvement around recycling and disposability across their campus.

The Green Living Project is allowing students to take action on these statistics. Students like Helena are using the data to formulate strategies to tackle their waste problems. Already, students are harnessing the campus’ food waste and feeding it into newly dug allotments to be used as compost.

The project also works in conjunction with Falmouth Exeter Plus to start embedding more sustainable practices into their waste strategies.

This can begin with really simple actions, like making sure that your recycling doesn’t have food still in it, or taking a reusable mug to the coffee bar. Small acts of behaviour change like this can make a meaningful contribution to reducing waste, and can be adopted anywhere. Coupled with work which embeds sustainability into top level strategy, The Green Living Project will be promoting a model for a huge shift in the throwaway culture of their campus. 

“I’m really interested into shocking people into seeing what they throw away, and trying to change their behaviour” agrees sustainable product design student Hannah Smith. Thanks to Students’ Green Fund, students across these campuses can begin to do exactly that, after having measured the extent to which our campuses produce such huge amount of unnecessary waste.

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