The University of Manchester and its Students’ Union has announced that it is working to eliminate avoidable single-use plastics from catering, labs and stationary by 2022.
These actions are part of the University’s participation in Manchester’s initiative to reduce carbon emissions and plastic use, and help the city become zero carbon by 2038.
It has already taken steps to reduce its plastic use, including widespread and incentivised use of re-usable cups, which saved 338kg of waste last year.
The university hotel and conferencing facilities have also made changes that will save around 10,000 plastic pens, 10,000 plastic straws, 15,000 plastic bottles, and 48,000 bathroom shampoo and soap bottles annually.
Its Students’ Union has also reduced its plastic use and has opened a student-run zero-waste shop which sells dried goods, bread, honey and cleaning products. Instead of plastic packaging, customers bring their own containers or bags to fill up products and pay by weight or item.
These initiatives will run alongside research being led by university academics, including a multi-million-pound project to improve plastic recycling and look for sustainable alternatives.
University of Manchester Vice president for social responsibility James Thompson said: “We know that these are challenging targets, but along with our partners we are determined to fully contribute to a vitally important local project which has global repercussions.”
Manchester’s carbon targets have been developed with university-based Tyndall Centre and commit the city to a science-based ‘carbon budget’, capping the total emissions at 15 million tonnes from 2018-2100.
The university is also taking steps on energy use, travel and the efficiency of buildings and is playing its part by encouraging sustainable practices among suppliers, staff and students.
In each of the last three years, thousands of new students on campus have taken part in a Sustainabiltiy Grand Challenge, a project aimed at increasing the knowledge of these issues.
James Thompson added: “The University itself is estimated to be responsible for 5.9% of the city’s carbon emissions and through our network of suppliers, 12,000 staff and 40,000 students we can play an important role in driving change and influencing behaviour on climate change and resource use.
“We know that these are challenging targets, but along with our partners we are determined to fully contribute to a vitally important local project which has global repercussions.”