Directorate of Estates and Facilities


Staff Advice and FAQ's

Waste Minimisation at Work

By taking a few simple steps we can dramatically reduce the amount of waste we produce. The following are a few ideas for reducing waste in the workplace:

  • Approximately 70% of office waste is recyclable. Think about the items you throw away and use the numerous recycling facilities across campus.
  • Refrain from using disposable cups for your drinks as both paper and plastic cups cannot be recycled with our current waste arrangements. Bring in a cup/mug from home and use that, or alternatively, use a"Hug Mug" for drinks you purchase from any Food on Campus outlet. This will save waste and you will get discounted drinks.
  • Rather than buying bottled water and having to dispose of the empty bottle, get a re-useable water bottle instead.
  • Try to avoid buying food which comes with lots of disposable packaging and consider bringing in your own food with re-usable containers. Check out the Love Food Hate Waste website for tips on how reduce food waste.
  • Wherever possible, engage with suppliers of goods to try and reduce the amount of packaging they use, or ask them to take it back when they deliver further products. Raise any issues with Procurement colleagues so these issues can be addressed when contracts are tendered etc.
  • Use double sided printing or print to a networked photocopier whenever possible. This saves energy and paper costs by up to 75%.
  • Use “print preview” to arrange print to fit the page, reduce margins and font size to maximise the use of your paper.
  • Put pieces of scrap paper together to make a notepad or reuse single sided sheets for draft printing before recycling it.
  • Use email wherever possible and only print if essential.
  • Reuse envelopes for internal use or for external post use a sticker.
  • Reduce the amount of junk mail you receive at both home and work - see this website for advice

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Where do I get an office paper recycling box from?

2. Do I have to remove lids from plastic bottles?

3. What happens to the University's waste paper - is it actually recycled?

4. Can paper towels and disposable paper cups be recycled in the paper recycling bins?

5. What happens to the blue bags that we collect the office paper recycling in?

6. Why can’t paper bags be used rather than the blue plastic bags for collecting our office paper?

7. Why can’t disposable plastic cups be put into the plastic bottle recycling bins around campus?

8. Why can only plastic bottles be placed in the recycling bins around the University?

9. What do all those recycling symbols I see actually mean?

1. Where do I get an office paper recycling box from?

These are available free of charge from the Environmental Services Unit. To arrange delivery, please leave a message with your location and extension number on x52246 (24 hr answer-phone).

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2. Do I have to remove lids from plastic bottles?

It is not necessary to remove lids from plastic bottles that are deposited in plastic bottle recycling bins on the main campus – however, if you are able to, please wash bottles before replacing the lid and recycling them.

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3. What happens to the University's waste paper - is it actually recycled?

The University recycles almost 160* tonnes of office paper per year. This is collected via the “blue bag” scheme and there should be a paper recycling box in all offices. Office paper collected through this scheme is collected and shredded by Elsa Recycling and sold to paper mills producing tissue grade paper (tissue/toilet paper). Watch the video to find out more about the process.

Should you require a paper recycling box for your office, please contact the Campus Cleansing Unit on x52246.

In addition to office paper, each year the University collects/recycles around 48* tonnes of other paper, newspapers and magazines, mainly from office clear outs, disposal of unwanted documents etc. These materials are collected in wheeled bins by the Campus Cleansing Unit and these are collected fortnightly on behalf of Palm Recycling and reprocessed into newsprint.

*figures are for the academic year 2015/16

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4. Can paper towels and disposable paper cups be recycled in the paper recycling bins?

No. Paper towels and disposable paper drinks cups are made from wet strength paper and do not break down in the normal paper recycling process and we therefore don’t want these items placing in the paper recycling bins/boxes around campus.

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5. What happens to the blue bags that we collect the office paper recycling in?

The bags have to be split open at our paper recyclers in order to remove the paper for shredding and subsequent recycling, but the plastic bag/film is separated before being baled and also sent for recycling - watch the video of the paper recycling process.

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6. Why can’t paper bags be used rather than the blue plastic bags for collecting our office paper?

This issue has been considered in some detail and there are a number of reasons for this . One reason is the cost. Paper collection sacks are around twice the cost of the plastic bags which are provided by our paper recyclers ELSA free of charge, and it is not economic for them to use paper ones. Also, there are operational issues to consider, primarily the need to tie bags before collection by external staff (the Campus Cleansing Unit) to prevent litter problems and the need to keep the paper dry as a number of collections are from points outside buildings.

The blue bags that are used are also recycled by ELSA.

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7. Why can’t disposable plastic cups be put into the plastic bottle recycling bins around campus?

Our current waste contractors will only accept plastic bottles (plastic cups tend to be made from different plastics than bottles).

In addition, we want to encourage the principle of reduce, re-use, recycle, so in the first instance we should be minimising the amount of waste we produce.

Wherever possible, the use of disposable cups should be discouraged. Staff should use their own cups where possible and re-useable cup know as the "Hug Mug" are now available in all Food on Campus outlets.

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8. Why can only plastic bottles be placed in the recycling bins around the University?

There are a number of reasons for this.

Plastic items are made from a variety of plastic types. Most plastic items will have a triangular sign with a number that denotes the type of plastic it is made from – see Plastic Types

Plastic bottles are usually made from type 1 (PET) and type 2 (HDPE) plastic which is more readily recyclable in the UK. The plastics processing capability in the UK is relatively undeveloped at the moment due to the limited supply of collected plastics and lack of markets for finished products -other types of plastic tend to be sent to overseas countries, mainly China, for recycling/reprocessing. Therefore most Local Authorities only collect plastic bottles as this guarantees, as far as possible, that only PET and HDPE plastic is collected. The University is currently in a similar situation in that the company who collect our plastic bottles from the main campus (and also Manchester City Council who now collect plastic bottles as part of the mixed recyclate collection from Halls of Residence) only want type 1 & type 2 plastics. The bulk of items that are placed in the plastic bottle banks are therefore plastic bottles, but any other plastic items that have either a Type 1 Plastic or a Type 2 Plastic on them can also be placed in the plastic bottle recycling bins.

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9. What do all those recycling symbols I see actually mean?

The Recycle Now website has produced a guide to recycling symbols. There is also a guide to the symbols seen on many plastic items.

Check out the following quiz on recycling symbols

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