UC students taking on the Plastic Free July challenge

A group of UC students is so passionate about reducing plastic waste that they are taking on the Plastic Free July challenge. Plastic Free July aims to raise awareness of the problems and amount of single-use disposable plastic in our lives and challenges people to do something about it! You can do the challenge for a day, a week or the whole month. You can try to refuse all single-use plastic or try ‘just’ the top 4: plastic bags, water bottles, takeaway coffee cups and straws.

UC students Juliet, Poppy, Florence, Maddy and Alex are gearing up to refuse all single-use plastic for a month and they’ll be vlogging and intagramming their progress. So keep an eye out for that on Insiders Guide, our Facebook and Instagram. Inspired? Why not get a friend or your flat taking on the challenge too? #ucplasticfreejuly

This message was brought to you by the UC Sustainability Office. Connect with us through Facebook or Instagram. Or email us: sustainability@canterbury.ac.nz



UC’s Sustainable Furniture: You might be sitting on Banks Peninsula wool!

 img_3806aWhen we talk about sustainability, it’s often about waste reduction or energy efficiency but not about procurement (how UC buys its goods from external parties). That’s a shame because UC’s procurement of “new” furniture has great sustainability features! We had a chat to Shelley Ranson from UC Procurement.

What does your team do? We provide purchasing and procurement services to the University.  In terms of Sustainability, we want to maximise social and economic benefits, and minimise damage to health and the environment. Often this means giving time to explore possibilities. For instance, by talking openly with supply partners we encourage them to review their existing sustainability initiatives and explore new opportunities. The Furniture Project is a recent example of this. 

The Furniture Project? With the pending completion of several major new buildings, and UC’s ‘normal’ ongoing requirement for new furniture, it wasn’t possible to furnish from existing stock, and a lot of new furniture was required. We selected four preferred supplies and a core catalogue range. During the project a Furniture Policy was written as well.

What sustainable features does the new furniture have? The core range furniture has the following features:

  • Environmental responsible manufacturing: Materials are low emission, sustainably sourced and designed for disassembly at end-of-life
  • Socially responsible manufacturing: Chain of custody for manufacture particularly with regard to working conditions of off-shore labour
  • Durability: E.g. AFRDI* and BIFMA** accreditation. This means the furniture is tough enough to withstand the high wear and tear environment of a university and won’t break or wear out as quickly as standard furniture
  • Ergonomic features: So that workplace health and safety is supported
  • Future reuse or recycling potential: The ability to relocate furniture for continued use around campus by establishing a standard range of furniture
  • Excellent warranty periods: Reducing whole-of-life costs and extending the functional life of the furniture

Developing a transparent supply chain has enabled us to understand the source materials and the location of manufacturing of our core range. Some of the selected products are locally manufactured in New Zealand. One example is the brand of soft seat covering of which the wool is produced from Banks Peninsula sheep!

What inspired the sustainability element in procurement decisions? Procurement meets fortnightly with the Sustainability Office to discuss current img_3808a projects and new initiatives. Through these discussions we have been able to identify potential ways in which UC can increase the use of environmental and socially responsible products and services. Also, Bronwyn Rice (our Procurement Strategist) comes from a background of sustainable procurement and brings her experience with Australian universities to UC.

And the old furniture, what happens to it? A robust disposal guideline is being followed, which means, for instance, that any furniture that can be reused will be stored***. We are also reviewing options for re-covering existing chairs to extend their life cycle. Obsolete items are at times given away or sold to local schools, education charities or UC staff/students. Our furniture storage partner (Allied Pickfords) has several partnerships, including charities, to facilitate this. Obsolete items are broken into component parts for scrap and recycling. Landfill is a last resort for damaged items that cannot be re-used, gifted or recycled in any way.

Finally, what are some of the other sustainable procurement initiatives? One is our collaboration with Futureworks, our Audio-Visual (AV) supplier. At the design stage, they advise on environmentally friendly options for installations (e.g. RMS is a solution that reduces energy consumption by remotely turning off equipment in empty rooms). They also offer environmentally friendly hardware disposal by arranging the delivery of obsolete hardware to recycling organisations. Another exciting collaboration is with our preferred Catering suppliers. They engage in a variety of activities, like supporting local producers where possible, using fair trade products, offering BYO mug options or arranging for food waste to go to farms.

Some other initiatives we are exploring include: Removal of packaging; compostable packaging including coffee cups, plates etc.; paper trial underway through UC print (Chamex) made from renewable and certified Brazilian forests; new cleaning consumable supplier (Advance Clean) who manufactures own range of eco-friendly cleaning products (Advance Nature); new preferred transport provider (Red Bus) are leaders in fuel efficiency and emissions reduction.

The University is in a great position to instigate change within supply chains and to support sustainability at a local business level.

This message was brought to you by the UC Sustainability Office. Connect with us through Facebook or Instagram. Or email us: sustainability@canterbury.ac.nz

*Australasian Furnishing Research and Development Institute                            **Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association ***Any furniture requirements should be done via a BEIMS request. More information available here.












50K Coffee Cups Composted – What’s next?

We have been operating our coffee cups collection trial for two years now, after starting the initial trial back in 2014. Now the trial is at an end and we can report that we have diverted around 50,000 coffee cups from landfill, and sent them to be composted. This is great – but we still have a long way to go.

We will now be continuing with our coffee cup collection system, and hopefully expanding it so that there are more collection points around campus. We are also looking to shift from the current type of coffee cups to a version that is certified compostable, and we should see some advances in this area over the next 12-18 months.

The OSCAWe were very excited to see the on-site composting of food waste and coffee cups at the University of the Sunshine Coast in their OSCA – On-Site Composting Apparatus. This simple system makes it possible to produce a high-grade compost on site (imagine how this could aid the creation of an Edible Campus, for example!) and eliminate some of the forms of waste we currently struggle with at UC (especially food grade plastic packaging). Check out the OSCA here for some inspiration!

We do ask yoIMG_0734au to follow the instructions on the blue and other recycling bins on campus. We are noticing a lot of contamination in the bins (items in the wrong bins), and this means (for instance) that recycling is incorrectly and unnecessarily sent to landfill. We really need your help to reduce waste on campus!

This message was brought to you by the UC Sustainability Office. Connect with us through Facebook or Instagram. Or email us: sustainability@canterbury.ac.nz


UC’s recycling changes for 2016

UC has made some changes to its recycling system – because, unfortunately, some types of plastic and packaging are no longer being accepted by UC’s end-point recyclers. So read the stickers on the bins before you recycle! Stickers for approximately 900 bins were located and updated! IMG_2008

Some items that used to be recycled must now be put in the red landfill bins. Examples of items that must now be put in the red landfill bins include:

    • plastic lids off single use takeaway cups
    • yoghurt and cardboard pottles
    • sandwich packs
    • sushi containers
    • cardboard pottles

So sort your waste according to these new stickers and if in doubt, put your item into the red landfill bin. This will prevent recycling becoming contaminated. This is important because whole truckloads can be rejected by end-point recyclers if there is too much contamination in the bins.

This will be the new stickers you will see on the bins.





For more information on Recycling at UC check here.

“Turn around your toner” campaign successful!

UC ‘s “Turn around your toner” campaign has produced some fantastic results! Since the 2011 earthquakes, many printer toners became “decoupled” (yes, like Gwyneth and Chris :-)) from the appropriate machine due to devices being shifted around. In other instances, too many toners were delivered for the same machine. This resulted in inefficient use of resources and high costs – full toners cost between $100 – $800 each! The campaign not only cleared out precious cupboard space but also promoted the responsible use of resources at UC. ITS in conjunction with Ricoh coordinated the project.  Toner 1

A staggering 96 toners were netted (55 Ricoh and 41 non Ricoh), resulting in an eye-popping savings of $8650. The Ricoh toners will be reallocated to UC printers on as-needed basis, and the non-Ricoh toners will be disposed off responsibly. Kathleen Hill, Major Accounts Manager for Ricoh was delighted – “the results were well worth the exercise and Ricoh hopes to continue this joint approach to achieve further success for both UC and Ricoh sustainability initiatives.  This has been a great win for both parties!” Mark Andrews from UC ITS said “we’d especially like to thank Catherine Woods and Dallas Geddes from Admin Plus, who supported this campaign by emailing their members to remind them to look for, and return any surplus toners.”

The ‘Turn around your toner’ campaign is not a one-off event. Administrators now have the ability to return any surplus toners on an ongoing basis which will help to avoid a repeat of surplus of toners on UC campus, ITS have set up a link in their service portal. To return a toner,

  1. Go to http://assist.canterbury.ac.nz
  2. Log in
  3. Select “Log a Request”
  4. Select IT Services
  5. Go to Print and Copy Services
  6. Select “Unused Toner Return”