Author: Maria Rabanser

Sustainability at the sportsgrounds

Sustainability at the King’s sportsgrounds

Over the last couple of months, the Sustainability Team has been out and about visiting our campuses with an ecologist from the London Wildlife Trust. This forms part of our work on developing a Biodiversity Strategy for King’s, which will launch in the next few months. On our visits, we looked at the current state of biodiversity at our campuses, and at the ways in which we can improve it to make spaces more attractive for students, staff, and of course wildlife. As part of this, we also visited the King’s sportsgrounds. 

King’s has three sportsgrounds across South London: New Malden near Berrylands, Honor Oak Park near Brockley, and The Griffin in Dulwich. While sportsgrounds are not traditionally associated with biodiversity due to the need for pitches to be kept in optimal condition for the many sports clubs using them, the King’s Sport team has successfully made space for wildlife. At Honor Oak Park, biodiversity has even been integrated into the newly built pavilion, which has a green roof.

Particularly New Malden, which is situated next to the Hogsmill River and the Elmbridge Meadows Local Nature Reserve, has seen many biodiversity improvements over the years. The edges of the ground bordering the nature reserve are left untouched, creating a buffer zone between the reserve and the managed sports pitches. The vegetation of various trees and shrubs provides a valuable habitat for birds and small mammals. In addition to this, nesting boxes for various species have been installed across the grounds. Hidden just under the roof of the pavilion are bat boxes, which provide important roosting and resting space for bats struggling to find space in cities. Small bird boxes are scattered across the trees around the edge of the sportsground, and a nesting box and shelf for owls have been installed inside a shed.

While biodiversity features can often be seen as nice ‘extras’, the team at New Malden have recognised that biodiversity can also be an opportunity to directly improve the grounds. For example, instead of replacing netting on a fence, the team has planted a hedge made up of a range of native species. This can provide food for pollinators, space for wildlife once grown, looks attractive to those using the grounds, and is likely to be longer-lasting than netting.

Once our Biodiversity Strategy has been published, we will share it across the university, ask what students and staff would like to see, and work with campus teams to implement it. If you want to read about our plans once we publish our strategy, make sure to follow this blog, our Twitter, or are signed up to our monthly newsletter.

It’s Fairtrade Fortnight! Join us this Friday for an event to celebrate Fairtrade

Fairtrade Fortnight puts a spotlight on trade, and the benefits fair and ethical trade has on the lives of farmers and workers who grow our food.  It takes place from the 26th February to the 11th March 2018, with a variety of events happening around the UK – including at King’s. 

The King’s Sustainability Team is excited to welcome Ketra Kyosiimire from the Ankole Coffee Producer’s Cooperative Union Ltd (ACPCU) in Uganda to King’s for this Fairtrade Fortnight event.  

Ketra is ACPCU’s accountant, giving her an oversight of all coffee production and sales, Fairtrade contracts and investment of the Fairtrade Premium in business improvements and community development. She’s also a farmer herself, and will speak about her experience of international trade and the difference Fairtrade can make from the producer’s perspective.  

ACPCU is an organisation supporting 17 Fairtrade certified cooperatives across southwest Uganda. There is a mixture of subsistence and commercial farmers in these multi-ethnic communities. Agriculture is the main source of income, and with assistance from Cafedirect, they have organised into a strong Union. They have created job opportunities, involved women and youth in their activities, and developed skills and long-term peace in their communities. ACPCU members now manage their coffee from farm to export; by avoiding intermediaries, members can maximise their incomes.  

The event will take place in Bush House, South Wing, 2.01/02 from 16:00-17:00 on Friday, 2nd March. Please sign up at https://fairtradefortnightkings.eventbrite.co.uk/ 

 

A visit to Grundon’s Energy from Waste plant

Have you ever wondered what happens to waste once it leaves King’s? For recycling, the answer is in the name: once it is collected, it is sent to a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF), separated by type and quality, and packed up to be turned into new products. Last year, we visited Veolia’s MRF in Southwark, London, to have a look at the processes involved. You can read about our experience (and see us all in high-vis and hard hats) here.

But what happens to all the stuff that can’t be recycled?

This summer, we visited Grundon to find out. Grundon collect waste from King’s laboratories that cannot be recycled or recovered through traditional methods. Instead, it has to be incinerated at high temperatures in a clinical waste incinerator. In two chambers, the waste is burned for several hours and at temperatures of up to 1,100 degrees Celsius. Gases are cleaned through a gas scrubbing system to reduce emissions of pollutants such as CO2. The heat produced through this process passes through the boiler and creates steam, which is exported to their Energy from Waste (EfW) plant nearby, and used to power a steam turbine generating electricity.

Grundon smallAfter our visit to the clinical waste incinerator, we toured Grundon’s Energy from Waste plant. This is where general waste (e.g. the black bins at King’s, containing sweet wrappers, sandwich cartons, plastic film etc.) is processed. While general waste at King’s is collected by Simply Waste Solutions, not Grundon, the process is the same.

Waste is collected in a tipping bay, where a crane picks it up and feeds it into furnaces. Like in the clinical waste incinerator, the heat generated is used to power a steam turbine generating electricity. The EfW plant we visited processes over 410,000 tonnes of waste every year, and generates 37 MW of electricity. A small proportion of this electricity is used to power the plant itself, while the remaining electricity is fed into the National Grid – enough to power approximately 50,000 homes.

The ash that remains at the end of the process is used for road surfaces. This means that even though some things can’t be recycled, we can keep them out of landfill by using them to create energy.

If you want to find out more about recycling at King’s, you can head to internal.kcl.ac.uk/waste, where you will find our full recycling guidelines.

 

King’s is now powered by wind

From 1 October 2017, all electricity directly purchased by King’s is supplied from wind power backed by REGO (Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin) certificates. Wind backed REGO certificates guarantee that our electricity is supplied from UK renewablwind turbinee wind sources, making our electricity carbon free.

This includes electricity supplied to King’s directly from our energy suppliers, but excludes electricity provided by NHS Trusts on campuses with shared space.

King’s has a target to reduce CO2 emissions by 43% by 2020 compared to a 2005/06 baseline, and is committed to becoming carbon free by 2025. Purchasing renewable energy is a significant step towards this goal. In addition, King’s has made significant investments in low-carbon energy on campus in recent years. Several buildings, including Great Dover Street Apartments and Champion Hill, are equipped with solar panels, and Denmark Hill Campus and Champion Hill have Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plants on site.

So far, King’s has achieved a 26% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2015/16 against a 2005/06 baseline. A recent report by Brite Green placed King’s in second place for carbon reduction within the Russell Group. The report also showed that King’s has successfully decoupled growth from growing carbon emissions, with emissions intensity (tonnes of CO2 emitted/£ of income) falling by 59% since 2008. This was the seventh best across the 127 English universities analysed.UNSDG #7

Kat Thorne, Head of Sustainability, said: ‘Purchasing our electricity from renewable sources is an important step for us here atKing’s on our journey to zero carbon by 2029. Climate change requires an urgent response from all of us and here at King’s we will continue to identify and implement actions to reduce our energy use and related carbon emissions.’

Don’t be a mug – recycle your cup: Coffee cup recycling now available at King’s

Starting this September, King’s will recycle coffee cups across campuses through the Simply Cups scheme.Simply Cups infogram website

Coffee cups have been a hot topic this year. Ever since Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall revealed that “doing the right thing” by putting our empty coffee cups in the mixed recycling bin might not be so good after all, there have been campaigns to tackle the problem.
Disposable coffee cups are mainly made from paper. To stop them from leaking, the inside of the cups is covered in a thin plastic (polyethylene) film – and it is this plastic film that creates problems when it comes to recycling the cups. Paper mills can’t separate the plastic film from the paper, which means that millions of coffee cups placed in standard mixed recycling bins actually end up in incineration or landfill.

However, there are some specialist facilities where disposable coffee cups are given a second life if they are collected separately. Simply Cups does this through two different ways:

  1. Coffee cups are shredded, and the material is mixed with other recycled plastics to create new products – which can be anything from pens to park benches.
  2. Fibre from coffee cups is recovered by pulping them with ambient temperature water – due to the difference in density between paper fibres and the plastic film, the plastic will float at the top and is removed. You can read more about this process here.

As a member of Simply Cups, we will now be able to recycle all disposable coffee cups. To recycle your cup, simply look out for the special coffee cup recycling bins across campuses. Once you have found your nearest bin, “#FlipTipSip” – Flip the plastic lid off the cup and place it in mixed recycling, tip any remaining liquid into the designated liquids part of the bin, and slip the empty cup into the collection tube.

The coffee cup recycling bins are initially being rolled out at:

  • Strand Campus, including Bush House, the Maughan Library and Virginia Woolf Building
  • James Clerk Maxwell Building (Waterloo Campus)
  • Guy’s Campus
  • Denmark Hill Campus

If you are based at Strand, you might already be familiar with the scheme. The Maughan Library is taking part in the Square Mile Challenge, a campaign to recycle 5 million coffee cups in the City of London by the end of 2017. After exceeding its April target of 500,000 cups, the campaign has recycled more than 1.2 million cups by the end of July. Manchester had a similar campaign earlier in the year – with coffee cups now returning as bird feeders, plant pot holders and chalk boards.

King’s is working to increase its recycling rate to 70%. Combined with other initiatives, such as the introduction of food waste segregation from all canteens and the improved recycling guidance online and on bin posters, we hope the new coffee cup recycling scheme will help us achieve this ambitious target.

Want to avoid disposable coffee cups altogether, and save money in the process? Use a reusable cup! King’s Food offer branded Keep Cups at their venues. You get a free drink when you buy a KeepCup, and a 10p discount every time you use it. And lots of other companies are doing it too – Starbucks, Pret and lots of independent coffee shops will also give you a discount if you bring your own cup! 

King’s is now a Fairtrade University

The Fairtrade Foundation has awarded King’s College London with Fairtrade University status. A Fairtrade University is one that has made a commitment to supporting and using Fairtrade.Fairtrade University FINAL CMYK.edit

The Fairtrade mark is widely recognised, and means that a product meets the social, economic and environmental standards set by the Fairtrade Foundation.  For farmers and workers, this includes the protection of workers’ rights and the environment; for companies it includes paying the Fairtrade Minimum Price and an additional Fairtrade Premium to invest in projects of the community’s choice.

Over the last year, King’s and KCLSU have worked together to make King’s a Fairtrade University. A joint Fairtrade policy has been signed, committing the university and students’ union to supporting Fairtrade by providing Fairtrade products on campus and engaging students and staff in Fairtrade campaigns. Both King’s and KCLSU already sell a range of Fairtrade products on campus, including tea and coffee, chocolate, fruit and graduation t-shirts and hoodies. As well as making Fairtrade products widely and easily available to the university community, promoting the positive impact buying Fairtrade can have on lives across the world is a key part of being a Fairtrade University. During Fairtrade Fortnight in early March, Fairtrade was promoted through posters and special offers from King’s Food. Some Sustainability Champions teams got involved by organising their own initiatives, such as Fairtrade wine & chocolate tastings for their teams.

To ensure the improvement of not only Fairtrade, but the sustainability of all food at King’s, a Fairtrade and Sustainable Food steering group meets regularly to discuss these topics. The group is open to all, and if you are interested in finding out more please contact us at sustainability@kcl.ac.uk.

The Fairtrade University award ties in with wider efforts to make food at King’s more sustainable. Earlier this year, King’s Food joined the Sustainable Restaurant Association and signed up to their Food Made Good programme, committing to sustainable sourcing and practices, as well as ethical standards.

‘Future Dust’: Explore plastic litter at the Totally Thames Festival

Today is the first day of the Totally Thames Festival, which means Maria Arceo’s artwork “Future Dust” is now open to the public!

Over the last year, King’s artist in residence Maria Arceo has collected plastic from the banks of the Thames. The project was supported by the King’s departments of Geography, Chemistry as well as the Cultural Institute. Maria is passionate about archaeology and oceanography, and interested in the footprints humanity leaves on aquatic environments. Plastic is one of these modern footprints, with countless reports on the amount of plastic debris that ends up in the planet’s oceans.

Maria Arceo at Sustainability Week

Maria Arceo at Sustainability Week

As campaigns such as ZSL’s #OneLess, and Hubbub’s For Fish’s Sake London highlight, London is a city closely linked to the sea. Waste in the tidal Thames will eventually end up in the oceans, and after breaking down into microplastics plastic might end up back on our plates.

With her Thames Plastic project, Maria wants to show Londoners the real magnitude of plastic debris entering the Thames. Since September 2016, she has done over 40 beach clean-ups all over London. Some King’s students and staff joined her for a clean-up during Sustainability Week, and picked up a complete computer keyboard in the mud between Millennium Bridge and Southwark Bridge. After the beach clean-ups, the workshops to clean and sort the plastic in May and June provided a perfect opportunity to look at the curiosities Maria and her team of volunteers found in the Thames (some photos of her Somerset House workshop can be found here).

Now complete, the “Future Dust” installation is a giant human footprint, entirely made from plastic from the Thames. Starting today, the piece will travel along the Thames for the rest of the month. It is currently near Guy’s Campus, in Potters Field Park outside City Hall, SE1 2AA. Next, it will move closer to Strand and Waterloo campuses – it will be the Oxo Tower Courtyard (SE1 9PH) from Sunday the 3rd to Wednesday the 6th September.  Details of all locations can be found on the poster below, or on the Thames Plastic website.