photo of plastic bottles

Waste & Recycling

On average, each person in the UK throws away their own body weight in waste every seven weeks and the average household in the UK produces more than a tonne of waste every year!

Based on a 10-year average (2009/10-2019/20) our University generates around 1000 tonnes of waste annually (not including construction waste), though this generation has been falling over the past three years.  Our KPI recycling rate target is 70% (matching what is estimated to be the amount of typical waste that can be recycled). The university is also a winner of the top 50 recycling websites by Greenmatch!

Our current recycling rate is 39% (2020-21). This has fallen from the previous year in part as recycling materials were consigned as ‘general waste’ as waste during come of the Covid shutdown period.

Check out the below projects that helped to reduce our waste:

Waste Strategy

To help, we developed a Waste Strategy, an approach relevant to all stakeholders that generate waste at the University. It sets out recommendations that will help eliminate and reduce wastes. Please take time to review this by downloading here.

Putting it in the Right Bin

Around campus you should see waste posters on each bin, whether in a teaching building or halls of residence.  These have been designed to convey what should and should not be placed into each bin in a simple and visual manner. Communications from the Sustainability Team will also be sent periodically, to both students and staff to remind of best practice and to find out if there are any specifically problem areas of issues occurring.  Watch the video to understand why recycling is so important, with our own waste collectors Suez and interviewed by Hubub. Then check out the bin posters below and help to increase our recycling rates at Greenwich.

Why Recycling is important and what happens to it.

The Bin Posters at the University of Greenwich

A4 Recycling Poster

Mixed Recycling bin items:

  • Drink cans and food tins (empty)
  • Paper and magazines
  • Drink and milk bottles
  • Tin foil (scrunched) and containers
  • Carboard
  • Plastics 1,2 and 3.  Check the small triangle (found commonly on the item’s bottom)

All items must be clean.  No other items should be placed in the bin.  Wash items before throwing.

Clear sacks MUST be used in internal recycling bins.  This helps to spot any contamination.  If there is too much other waste or items not clean, then the bag has to be disposed of as general waste.  The University is liable for contamination fines.

 A4 Waste Poster-01 2

General Waste bin items:

  • Coffee cups
  • Food leftovers (if a food bin is not nearby)
  • Food packets and wrappers
  • Tissues and paper towels
  • Polystyrene and hard plastics (4,5,6 and 7)
  • Dirty packaging

Remember to check to see if it can be recycled.

Black sacks MUST be used in internal waste bins.  This helps in identifying the generate waste and recycling waste.  General waste is sent to incineration facilities and burnt to generate electricity.  No waste is sent to landfill.

A4 Food Poster-01 2

Food Waste bin items:

  • All cooked and raw leftovers
  • Small bones
  • Tea bags and coffee grounds

Food waste bins are only found in the café and eating outlet areas at each campus. 

Clear sacks MUST be used in internal food waste bins. This helps to spot any contamination.  

Food waste is sent for anaerobic digestion and turned to compost.  If the waste is contaminated it will cause issues and we can be liable for contamination fines.


Glass waste in items:

  • Glass bottles and jars – any colour

All items must be clean.

No drinking glasses or broken glass.

Glass bins are located within the waste compounds across each campus, with dedicated glass bags/bins within the halls of residence to be moved and collected outside.  Glass is recycled.

A4 Battery Poster-01 2

Battery waste bin items:

  • Assorted household batteries only

Battery bins are located in a variety of places around the campuses (i.e., Dreadnought and Queen Anne at Greenwich, The Dome, Accommodation Office and FM Office at Avery Hill, and Pembroke, Drill Hall Library and Hawke at Medway).

Batteries are specially collected once the bins are full and are recycled.

There are some additional types of waste that are typically generated through specific operations or activities across the campuses.   

  • Clinical/Sanitary waste is kept in secure compounds in yellow bins.
  • Garden and wood waste is kept in collection skips.
  • Electrical waste (WEEE) is kept in secure compounds.
  • Confidential waste is kept in secured bins or bags.
  • Metal waste is kept in collection skips.
  • Bulky waste is kept in collection skips and are items that do not fit elsewhere i.e., mattresses etc.

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University of Greenwich Sustainability Blog