Recycling Bins. Credit: Matthew Tosdevin <>
We recycled 47% of our waste in 2022–23 – and generated 18kg per student in this year. 

Our commitment

The University aims to reduce its scope 3 carbon footprint associated with waste generation, as well as to reduce costs associated with waste management, and to maximise rebates for recycling. Linking with procurement, the University aims to support the transition to a circular economy, focusing on preventing waste generation in the first instance. To support this the University community needs to ensure it minimises waste generation where possible, re-uses where possible and to dispose of waste correctly to ensure as much waste is recycled as possible. 

We aim to:

  • Reduce the amount of waste generated, measured per student to 20kg or less by 2027.
  • Increase recycle and reuse such that non-recyclable waste per student is reduced to 6kg or less by 2027.
  • Raise awareness of waste and recycling standards and legal responsibilities of staff and students through the deployment of eLearning modules and webpage refresh.

Our performance:

  • In 2022–23 we generated 18kg of waste per student.
  • In 2022–23 we recycled 47% of our waste. 
  • In 2022–23 we re-used 7.3 tonnes of office related materials through Warp It.
Waste Management Hierarchy

Waste management hierarchy 

The Waste (England and Wales) Regulations require us to regard the waste hierarchy and apply where practicable. 
This is addressed as part of our waste code of practice.

Our recycling bins

There are bins across campus for you to recycle your waste. 
For more information on this, please read the information on the Waste and Recycling page on the student and staff Environment & Sustainability SharePoint site. This also includes a useful PowerPoint presentation for staff who receive waste notes when any collection of waste takes place.
Email with recommendations for recycling facilities or if you notice any problems. 
Recycling Bins. Credit: Matthew Tosdevin <>

The campus waste depot

We have a dedicated team of staff on campus who manage our waste at the University Recycling Centre. This location is a hub of activity where the team collect the waste from the bins around campus. They take apart broken chairs, desks and bits of furniture to separate wood, plastic and metal, and collect electrical waste – officially known as Waste Electrical & Electronic Equipment (WEEE) – to maximise recycling.
Above recycling on the waste hierarchy is re-use, so we utilise Warp It and UniGreen where possible to prevent items with potential for second life going into the waste stream. This reduces waste and requirements to purchase brand new furniture and laboratory equipment, allowing others to re-purpose these goods.

Food waste

We want to remove food waste as much as possible from the University. In 2013, we introduced food composting from the catering outlets and in 2022–23 we collected 9 tonnes of food waste. All food waste produced is recorded, and then taken to anaerobic digesters in Devon. 
The University reduces food waste by utilising the Too Good To Go app. Our cooking oil is also collected and turned into biofuels.
Marine litter, microplastics on the beach.

Leading the charge against plastic pollution

The University is at the forefront of international research into the causes and impacts of marine litter and is now taking action to reduce the plastic waste generated on its campuses including joining WRAP and the UK Plastics Pact.

Get involved

There are three key things you can do to help us reduce our waste across campus:
  1. Reduce the waste you produce and use a reusable drinks bottle or coffee cup – refill locations can be found on our Google map.
  2. Ensure you and your peers are putting the right waste in the right bins. Students and staff can view our What Goes Where page and then take our Recycling Quiz to help strengthen your knowledge on what can be recycled on campus.
  3. Contact your representatives at the student union, UPSU, to voice feedback on the University’s plans, either via the Sabbatical Officers or the Part Time Environment & Sustainability Officer.

Recycling collections

The University has a mixed recycling collection scheme, meaning that all recyclable materials (except glass) can be mixed together in the same recycling bin across main campus. We are hoping this will remove any confusion about which bin to use, and hopefully increase the amount of recyclables we divert from the waste stream. This makes it simpler to know which bins to use and matches your bins at home in the Plymouth city (with the exception of glass, which still needs separating).
There are a couple of items that we find commonly in the recycling bins that shouldn't be in there: disposable drinks cups, tissues and used paper towels and any type of plastic bag or plastic film should go into the general waste bins as they cannot be recycled. Locations to dispose glass, vapes and batteries on campus can be found on the sustainability campus map.
If the wrong item ends up in the wrong bin it can prevent the waste being recycled correctly, so it is important to use the right bin. If you are unsure check the packaging for recycling symbols or get in touch with the Sustainability Team at  
For more information about this and where to recycle your other more specialist waste such as batteries, electrical goods or glass please go to the student and staff Environment & Sustainability SharePoint site.
Zero waste map
Our team have created a zero waste map to help you navigate zero waste opportunities within Plymouth. These are constantly expanding so contact us at if there is somewhere new we have missed.
What should I do with my domestic electrical waste?
For personal electrical waste you have at home, St Luke's Hospice, a 4 minute walk from campus, will accept small household electrical items such as lamps or hairdryers and small kitchen appliances. For larger items, such as fridges, a bulky waste collection can be arranged through Plymouth City Council.
What should I do with disposable hot drink cups?
If you forgot your reusable cup and can't sit in a cafe to drink, take it to a cup bin so we can avoid contaminating our recycling bins.
What's the difference between disposing on campus versus at my Plymouth term time address?
More information for students and staff can be found on our SharePoint site.

Use your reusable cup at our campus cafes 

Our goal is to reduce the number of disposables cups used and then disposed of on campus. It’s estimated that 2.5 billion paper coffee cups are being thrown away in the UK every year. That’s almost 5,000 a minute, or 7 million per day! One reusable cup will on average have completely paid for itself after around 50 uses. 
Cut waste, cut carbon, save money when you use a reusable cup at our campus cafes and get a 20p discount.
Ditch the disposables coffee cup graphic for feature panel

Discover more

Sustainability is embedded not just in operations across the University but also in our course provision, education methods and research.

Dartmoor expedition

Sustainability courses and programmes
Plymouth offers a range of sustainability themed courses and programmes across many disciplines.

Sustainability education

Sustainability education
Discover how the Centre for Sustainable Futures works to embed sustainability across our faculties.

Aerial view from high altitude of little planet earth with small village houses and distant green cultivated agricultural fields with growing crops on bright summer evening

Sustainability research
Our Sustainable Earth Institute is about advancing research, knowledge and innovation for a more sustainable Earth.