University of Leeds leads the way in binning plastic waste

The university and its student union have committed to become single-use plastic-free by 2023

By Jonny Bairstow

The University of Leeds and Leeds University Union have pledged to stop using single-use plastics by 2023.

The five-year campaign will involve mapping how polluting materials are currently used, identifying action plans to help phase them out and reducing the amount of recyclable products and packaging being brought onto the campus.

The pledge commits catering and office spaces to becoming single-use plastic-free by 2020, with longer-term support for lab space and other services to help them identify and develop available alternatives to disposable plastic equipment and apparatus by 2023.

Scientists at the university’s chemistry department are working to develop biodegradable bioplastics, while mathematics professors are working out how to predicting the flow and crystallisation of polymers in plastics to improve processing and recycling.

The university’s geochemical research laboratory has recently replaced its centrifuge tubes racks with reusable equipment.

The University’s catering service has already saved more than 100,000 disposable cups from the bin by selling branded KeepCups, which come with a free hot drink and 20p off every subsequent purchase.

Dr Louise Ellis, Director of Sustainability at the University, said: “We’ve already made so much progress, with strong recycling rates and catering initiatives such as our reusable cups becoming an integral part of our operations.

“We hope this pledge inspires all staff and students to take up the challenge of collectively reducing our use of throwaway plastics, across campus and beyond.”

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