Ecosia is a certified B Corp and was founded in 2009. It’s mission to mission to cultivate a greener world and has the goal to plant one billion new trees by the year 2020.
Ecosia does this by donating at least 80% of its advertising income to tree planting programs in Burkina Faso, Madagascar, and Peru. It currently has 7 million active users and has planted over 52, 000, 000 trees so far.
Using the app (or desktop search engine) is an easy way to make a difference.
(Ecosia also doesn’t sell your data to advertisers nor have third party trackers, unlike other some of the larger search engines…)
Tackling Food Waste
10 million tonnes of food is chucked away in UK every year. That’s equivalent to wasting £17 billion or £700, on average per household.
Olio is part of the ‘food sharing revolution’. This app connects people who have food to give away. There are 907,000 people have joined the Olio platform, and so far, has saved 1,218,03 portions of food!
To advertise food: download the app, snap a picture, give the item a short description & when and where the item is available for pick-up.
Too good to go
This app allows food outlets (Restaurants, Cafés, Bakeries etc.) to advertise any food they have left over at the end of the day– to be sold in Too Good To Go’s ‘magic bags’ for heavily discounted prices.
So far, Too Good To Go has partnered with 1,488 stores (such as Yo! Sushi and Paul) across the UK, saving 479, 094 meals from the bin (equivalent to saving approx. 958,188 Kg of CO2). To learn more about Too Good To Go, watch their video here.
A million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute.
The Refill app locates sources of free drinking water wherever you are. In London there are over 900 refill stations. Around King’s, there are over 42 refill points around Strand, 38 near Waterloo, 17 around Guys , 10 by St Thomas’ & 4 close to Denmark Hill.
Using Refill helps to reduce use of disposable plastic water bottles (nearly half of the bottles in the UK are not recycled, with more than 15 million littered) and save carbon emissions connected to the disposable plastic production. Refill also receives 13p for every refill logged on the app, which goes towards planet protecting campaigns.
(The King’s App can also help you locate re-fill station inside of each King’s campus).
Keep your refillable bottle with you and you’ll never go thirsty again!
Good On You
Good On You gives you ethical ratings to over 1,000 high street fashion brands. These ratings encompass not just environmental sustainability (e.g. assessing the company’s energy and water intensity, chemical use and disposal), but social sustainability; analysing factors such as child and forced labour, worker safety, freedom of association and payment of the living wage. Good On You also builds the rating around if any animals are used (reduced scores linked to the use of angora, down feather, shearling, karakul and exotic animal skin/hair, wool and leather).
Users can feedback and make requests of the brands.
Read more on how Good On You and how they rate here.
This is the story of what happens to all food waste from King’s!
I got a chance to join the King’s Sustainability team on a visit to an Anaerobic Digestion plant (Agrivert) in Virginia Water which was coordinated with Simply Waste, the food waste collection company for King’s. The tour was led by Charlie who has worked in the recycling industry for over 15 years, starting in local recycling then moving into food specific recycling.
This plant is where all King’s food waste goes to be ‘digested’ then reused as fuel in a methane gas form to power their machines, with any extra sold back to the grid to power 4400 local homes, and as compost to local farmers.
Big trucks drive up to the entrance, as they arrive they punch in a designated code which identifies which company they come from. A scale under the driveway weighs the vehicle and then the vehicle is given the green light to go into the recycling bunker. Once inside, the food waste load is dumped into a deep concrete ‘mouth’ where the process of decomposition begins.
Once the food waste is dumped into this concrete stomach, the waste is mixed with water to make it easier for any plastic contamination to be sieved out. This is where the plastic contaminated waste comes out and next to it a photo of said waste. The plastic waste is sent to an Energy from Waste Plant.
We were told that most food waste
recycling companies prefer food to be in plastic bags rather than biodegradable
bags as they are very hard to separate from the food. Biodegradable bags stretch
and don’t break as easy which makes them dangerous to the machinery that chops
everything up finely for digestion. In addition, they contain more water than
plastic, so cannot be burned effectively to get energy from waste. If you look
closely at the picture of plastic waste, you can see how big the waste is and
how easy it is to sift it out.
Once that is all done, the food waste sludge goes through one more pipe and any tiny bits of plastic and grit not caught by the grinder is siphoned out. After this, the waste is ready to go and gets fed into one of the holding tanks (or ‘Stomachs’ of the plant).
The food waste is now ready for a
long ferment (75 days in fact) in one of the five tanks they have. Having the
luxury of five tanks gives Agrivert the choice to choose which one to use first
and helps them if for some reason there is any kind of mechanical issue or if one
of the tanks becomes ‘sick’.
Anything can make a tank sick – we were told to think of it like our own digestive system, in that when you have something that doesn’t agree with you, you might need to a bland diet of something like chicken and rice for a few days to get your stomach back to normal. If one of their batches does gets sick, Agrivert has a ‘chicken and rice’ equivalent that they feed the tank and they soon feel better and are healthy again and they can get back to work! Making sure that the food waste is of a wide variety is important, if the tanks just receive one type of food – such load of bread or curry, the chance of getting sick increases (just like if a human only at one type of food for a long time). Therefore, Agrivert makes sure to balance what the tank receives to reduce the change of it getting sick before the ‘chicken & rice’ is necessary.
You will notice that all the
tanks have soft domes on them, this is where the gas created by the process
collects and is then used to power the Agrivert machinery with any extra sold
back to the grid. The power generated from their left-over gasses power up to
4500 local homes per year. The soft domes help identify when there is a problem
with the tank, as it will appear sunken and not fully inflated as seen in the
You can see the large motors on
the outside of the tanks. These are blades that move the food sludge and make
sure it is turning continually and kept warm throughout the whole process (at
body temperature – around 37 degrees). The blades are different sizes and
heights so that everything moves around and utilizes the whole tank.
The two long implements you can
see above are examples of what the blades that churn the food waste around the
tank look like.
It was interesting to see the re-purposing of shipping containers; these are being used as heat diffusion containers and the had several more as office and staff room space. The entrance has room for a couple of small offices, a large meeting room and presentation space as well as a kitchen and toilet facilities for the staff and guests.
The last bit of the tour took us past the huge pipe that you see below; we were told that if this pipe ever stops working it would lead to a very loud and dangerous explosion – it means that the methane expelled from the tanks is not moving freely around and has stopped, building up pressure and finally, exploding. Thankfully that’s has never happened at this Agrivert plant but has happened at others.
And this is the story of what
happens to the food waste collected at King’s College London!
If you get the chance, I would recommend you go and see how one of these plants operates (The Sustainability Team put on one or two trips to King’s waste facilities a year, follow Sustainability Team social media and newsletter to keep up to date on the next). If anything, visiting one of these plants will give you hope for the future of recycling and show you that it is possible to turn waste; food or otherwise into reusable energy that can power homes and fertilize crops.
The only thing I would strongly
suggest is: bring something to cover your nose & mouth, as the smell is
overpowering and it lingers on clothes.
I can’t even describe it. 🤢
Jane Picciano, Sustainability
Champion Gold, Maughan Library
Each year, we hold Sustainability Week to raise awareness and educate King’s staff and students about sustainability at King’s. Sustainability Week revolves around ‘#MakeADifference’. The Sustainability Team, alongside student societies and staff Sustainability Champions, put on events with the aim to educate on various areas of sustainability (social, environmental and economic), give back to society and most of all – have fun!
Here is a summary of the week…
Sustainability Pop up: This Sustainability Week we hosted an interactive stall across King’s campuses. We played lots of sustainability related games – we quizzed you on how many of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs you could remember and played the washing line game, where staff & students got the chance to win a Keep Cup and a free tea/coffee if they correctly guessed how long it took seven everyday items to degrade (from tea bags, to tin cans (hint: they rust!) to plastic bags). It was great to talk with staff & students about what interests you most within sustainability and we got the chance to update staff & students on some of the sustainability projects happening at King’s – for example, the Don’t Be Trashy project and behaviour change techniques aimed to reduce waste and increase recycling rates in King’s halls of residences.
King’s VegFest: Studies show that a veganism can reduce the environmental impact that your diet has, and reducing the amount of meat and dairy we consume can positively affect climate change. We hosted this event in collaboration with the King’s Vegetarian and Vegan society. There were lots of free samples from vegan producers, including vegan cheese (thank you Tyne Chease), chocolate (thanks to Raw Halo) snacks (thank you to Purl Pops, Nim’s Fruit Crisps and Freya’s Fruit Bars), Dairy Alternatives (thank you KoKo, Rebel Mylk and to a King’s Alumni own brand: Edenera!). Students and staff also brought delicious dishes for everyone to try, we discussed the environmental impact of the food we eat and general sustainability passions!
Dr Bike: Cycling is not only an environmentally sustainable form of transportation, but one that is socially sustainable due to the value exercise has on physical health and overall well-being.
We want to encourage cycling in London and help make it as easy as possible for our staff and students. Therefore, we held four Dr Bike sessions across the King’s campuses. These Dr Bike sessions provided free bike checks to students and staff. Mechanics led the session and checked brakes, gears and chains, changed bike pads and gave advice and accurate quotes for whatever they couldn’t fix. There are many Dr Bike sessions happening across London every day, organised through Cycle Confident. To keep up to date with the latest session near you, follow Cycle Confident updates here.
Film Screening: A Northern Soul: Sustainability often gets bundled into being thought of as purely environmental, with the social and economic sides to it often neglected. This year, for our final event of the week, we chose a film which demonstrated the importance of these two, often forgotten, pillars of sustainability.A Northern Soulis a documentary set in Hull, which follows one man, Steve, a warehouse worker on his journey through Hull in 2017 during its crowing year as the ‘UK City of Culture‘. We see Steve chase his passion of bringing hip-hop to disadvantaged kids across the city, through his Beats Bus. The film raises uncomfortable truths about inequality in the UK, but does so while demonstrating the strength and charm of Hull’s residents in the face of this inequality. The film is available on BFI player.
GoodGym Run:King’s GoodGym is a community of runners that combines getting fit with doing good. For this session the runners went to Euston Food Bank. GoodGym volunteers helped to sort out the dry donations of cereal, biscuits and chocolate into sell by date to help ensure no food loss and effective allocation of items according to date. King’s GoodGym is a great way to get fit and to help the local community. To read more on GoodGym click here.
Gardening at the Maughan: The Library Services Sustainability Champions ran the gardening session at the Maughan to help nurture the 200+ trees which were planted in the garden at the start of December 2018, as part of National Tree Week and broader City of London Environment and Clean Air Strategies . Sustainability Week volunteers watered all the trees and re-taped them to ensure their visibility, helped to replant some of the crab apple trees and gave the garden a quick litter pick – all in all, the garden got a good bit of T(ree)LC.
Ethical Beauty Talk: Stephanie Green from the Modern Language Centre spoke about how sustainable shea butter can empower women. Speaking from her experience living and working in Ghana she told the story behind the TAMA brand, made from natural shea butter. Lots of the beautiful vegan friendly soaps, creams and lotions were also available for sale at the session!
Zero- Waste Beauty Workshop: 8 million tonnes of plastic end up in the ocean every year. The UN has stated that our use of plastic is creating a ‘planetary crisis’, and by 2050, the oceans will carry more plastic than fish. Read more here.
During the week, we held two zero-waste workshop sessions, co-hosted with the King’s Beauty Society. In these sessions, students learnt more about the global plastic-problem and the individual steps we all can do to make zero-waste living that little bit more achievable. Students got to make their own zero-waste coffee body scrub (using King’s Food own used coffee grounds – which would have otherwise gone to Anaerobic Digestion), lemon lip scrub and peppermint toothpaste!
Due to the demand, The Sustainability Team plan to host more events like this throughout the year. In the meantime, a post with the zero-waste beauty recipes will follow on the blog soon.
Thank you to everyone who helped organise and took part in Sustainability Week 2019! We love meeting you all and hearing your feedback, ideas and passions. You showed King’s really can #MakeADifference!
This week’s guest blog comes courtesy of Jonathan Hyde, Masters student at King’s studying an MA in Climate Change. This post aims to start a series of guest blogs highlighting how some of our students, staff and alumni in the King’s community are putting their sustainable passion & innovation into practice.
Hi my name is Jonathan (Jonny), I study MA Climate Change at King’s and a passionate environmentalist.
This passion for the environment has led me to take a more pro-active stance towards achieving climate justice (fitting with the 13th Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) and tackling environmental degradation on land and at sea (SDG 14 and 15).
Whilst away traveling, my partner Claire and I came to realise just how severe the plastic pollution problem really was. Plastic litter was polluting everywhere we went, whether it was a forest, a mountain or a beach – there was little escaping it. The beaches were particularly bad, and in one place we took part in a beach clean-up picking up countless straws. Yet, the next day it was just as littered!
It really opened our eyes to this issue. However, when we
returned home we saw that actually we had been living in a sea of plastic all
along, and that the UK had just as much as a problem.
However, when we were away we saw creative solutions to the problem. One in particular that we loved was the use of bamboo, and especially re-useable straws! We came to find out that bamboo is the perfect sustainable material, being the strongest, most durable, and most rapidly growing grass species in the world! It just so happened that Claire’s parents have copious amounts of bamboo growing in their garden. So, when we first visited them after returning home the bamboo straw production began!
In the beginning, I was just making them as gifts for friends and family, truly enjoying creativity in a way I had never done before. I feel that’s the real beauty of the sustainability movement – what it can creatively and innovatively inspire. The response was brilliant too; people loved them and encouraged me to start selling them. I then discovered my friend who lives close by also has a great amount of bamboo growing, so I began harvesting more, and experimenting with different designs and personalisation.
I established Woodsloth’s as an official business, as sales began to pick up.
Now, 6 months on, and 1 month into “official” business, I’ve created over a 100 straws. I’m delighted as that means over 100 straws aren’t going to end up in landfill or the sea! 100 down, 8 billion to go…and that’s just the number used in the UK!
I have an Instagram
page (@woodsloths) and email (firstname.lastname@example.org) where I take
personalised orders. I am also in discussions with the Union Shop to have a
“King’s” and “KCL” edition on sale, as part of their
sustainable and ethical Spring/Summer collection – so watch this space!
This guest blog comes from Yukti Gopal, a third year Politics student from the Department of Political Economy.
The plastic we throw away in a single year could circle the earth four times. Every minute of every day, one million plastic bottles are used. It’s become an addiction. Plastic is everywhere and it’s almost as if we can’t escape it. The problem when we ‘throw plastic away’ there is no such thing as an ‘away’, it just ends up somewhere else, usually it’s the ocean. 8 to 14 million tons of plastic are dumped in the oceans every single year. Needless to mention the disastrous consequences this has. Fortunately, we can all do something to reduce our plastic consumption and here are some easy tricks which you can implement in your everyday life:
1: Buy a reusable water bottle/coffee cup
The simple process of producing bottled water requires 6 times as much water per bottle as there is in the actual container. Mind-blowing. We are lucky to live in London where tap water is safe to drink, so why buy plastic bottles?
2: Buy in bulk when possible
Some shops like ‘As Nature Intended’ offer a bulk section where you can buy everything from oats, rice, to seeds and trail mixes. You simply bring your own containers and ﬁll them up. Not only is it cheaper to buy that way but it’s also an efﬁcient way to cut single-use plastic food packaging. If you have access to a farmer’s market, stop by to buy your fruit and veg, there’s usually much less plastic food packaging involved!
3: Eat less seafood
I know this one can be a bit controversial but the sad truth is that while it is great to use reusable straws, the majority of plastic found in the ocean comes from ﬁshing practices. To be precise, 46% of marine plastic waste comes from commercial ﬁshing. Instead, you could get creative and try plant-based alternatives which are more sustainable.
4: Use reusable bags
This is such an easy one! We throw away more than 1 trillion plastic bags a year. I personally always have a reusable bag in the back of my bag in case I need to pop by the grocery store; they take literally no space, weigh nothing yet come in really handy! Incorporating these little swaps in your day-to-day are quite easy and don’t require much effort at all so join us, and be a part of the positive change!
This January, King’s received the result of it’s first SRA final report, achieving a one-star rating at 59%.
King’s became a member of the SRA in 2016 and submitted it’s final ‘Food Made Good’ report in November 2018 before achieving its first result this January.
Background of the SRA
The SRA works with food establishments and universities to guide the route to running a more sustainable operation.
The SRA was set up in 2010 by two restaurateurs, Simon Heppner and Giles Gibbons, who identified that while food service businesses saw sustainability as important, there was no consistency in the way it was defined or addressed. The Esmee Fairbarn Foundation recognised the importance of the SRA and supported it as an initial funder. Since 2010, the SRA has since grown from 50 members, to over 8,000 in 2018.
Why King’s is a member of the SRA
The aim of the Food Made Good report and being a member of the SRA is to:
Being a member of the SRA and undertaking the Food Made Good report helps King’s to identify areas for improvement, whilst also benefit from a platform to learn from other establishments and share successes. The result of the Food Made Good report comes with a ‘To Do List’ of actions to help us make the impact King’s has, a more positive one.
Food Made Good Report
The Food Made Good assessment comprises of three main sections: Sourcing, Environment and Society (as mirrored in King’s Sustainable Food Policy).
Within these three sections are ten areas the SRA look at to judge how Sustainable the food enterprise or institution is. These areas include: Supporting Global Farmers, Eat More Veg & Better Meat, Feed People Well, Waste No Food and Valuing Natural Resources.
King’s SRA Report 2018: Results
Below you can see the breakdown of scores King’s achieved in each of these 10 areas for 2018:
Some of sustainable achievements King’s and King’s Food have made across these areas to earn this one-star rating include:
All electricity purchased by King’s comes from renewable (wind) energy
Established a Fairtrade and Sustainable Food Steering Group (2016/17). This meets every 3 months and any interested member of staff or students can attend. (Email email@example.com if you would like to attend the next).
The value of this report is that it provides tangible ‘To Do’s’ in each of these ten areas to improve the sustainability of King’s involvement in society, environment and sourcing.
Below shows the To Do List for ‘Supporting the Community’ (section: Society). This To Do List directly appeals to the Service Strategy at King’s, which brings focus to King’s’ responsibility and ability to get more involved with our local surroundings and communities, use our resources to strengthen ourselves and others and push the social side of sustainability further.
Another To Do List for ‘Feed People Well’ (section: society) can be seen below. Over the next year, King’s must emphasise effective training of staff and informing the customer to help nudge healthier, more sustainable meal choices.
To Do List for ‘Waste no Food’ (section: environment). This To Do List is not just about changing your practice but communicating sustainable practice more effectively and sharing this with other universities/food establishments.
King’s Sustainability Team and King’s Food are very proud of this result and look forward to responding to the actions in the To Do Lists. We will be ready to re-submit this year for our 2019 report, to gain our second…and possibly third, star.
Walking around London, we see countless advertisements for fashion retailers every single day. Especially today, on Black Friday, retailers are doing everything they can to convince us to spend more. But our love for fashion may be harming the environment: reports show that fashion is the 2nd most polluting industry in the world.
To find out more, the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC), which is a parliamentary select committee made up of MPs from across the political spectrum, launched an inquiry into the Sustainability of the Fashion Industry. Last week, they held a public evidence hearing at the Victoria and Albert Museum, questioning fashion designers, upcyclers and innovators about how to fix the fashion industry’s environmental impact. We were in the audience for the hearing, and are bringing you our highlights of the morning’s discussions.
Source: Hubbub Foundation
The first thing that became evident was that there is no shortage of challenges to embedding sustainability into fashion. From ‘fast fashion’ being too fast to consider sustainable options to convincing manufacturers to return clothing scraps, fashion brands can face numerous obstacles. The good news is that there are plenty of ideas on how to change this. One interesting challenge is the scraps left over from pattern cutting. Designer Phoebe English told the audience to imagine a t-shirt, and then imagine the piece of fabric it was cut from. While the fabric offcuts used to be a resource and sold, they are now frequently discarded. But innovations are happening. In New York, non-profit organisation FabScrap collects this fabric waste and sells it to makers of all kinds (fashion students, sewists, quilters) at affordable prices. Some brands are also looking into zero-waste pattern cutting, where designs are laid out on the fabric in a way that eliminates cut-offs.
The hearing also showed that it’s not just brands who need to change, but also us consumers. The expert panel explained that even though clothes are becoming cheaper, we are spending more, as fast fashion leads us to buy larger quantities of increasingly disposable clothes. But while buying a new outfit may make us happy, the happiness from a new purchase typically wears off after three days. And if an item breaks, we often throw it away – adding to the tonnes of clothes sent to landfill in the UK every year. While some brands now offer free or paid repair services, this isn’t a widespread practice and the panel of experts felt that this was an area legislation could help push the industry in the right direction. One initiative could be making repairs VAT-free. Another idea was for the government to introduce better labelling for our clothes. In supermarkets, food is labelled with health warnings and information on its origin – but our clothes rarely contain warnings about the harmful chemicals they may have been treated with, or the environmental damage they caused.
Finally, sustainability in the fashion industry is not only about environmental sustainability. Increasingly, consumers want to know more about the social sustainability of their clothes. While the fashion industry provides employment for millions of women around the globe, the jobs are not up to scratch: pay is often poor, while working conditions are bad. Journalist Lucy Siege and founder of Eco-Age Livia Firth both pointed out that cheap clothes are only possible due to exploitation. In addition, Dr Offord MP explained that in a survey of 51 leading UK brands, 71% could not be sure that modern slavery had not occurred at some point in the supply chain. While the Modern Slavery Act was praised by the panel, many felt it does not go far enough in assigning legal responsibility. Organisations like IndustriALL Union are working to ensure garment workers everywhere in the world have the opportunity to join a union and fight for better working conditions.
With all these challenges, what can we as consumers do to make our fashion choices more sustainable?
Based on the information the panelists gave, we have put together our top tips for a more sustainable wardrobe:
Buy less, but better
Say no to fast fashion! Try to only buy what you really love and know will wear, and try to buy better quality clothes that you can love for longer. While difficult to do on a student budget, vintage shops, charity shops and resale platforms like Ebay or Depop may help you find some bargains!
Get yourself a new outfit for free
If you have some clothes you no longer want, why not try going to a clothes swap? You can usually bring clothes you no longer like, and swap them for other pre-loved items a t a clothes swap near you. If you live in King’s Residences, keep an eye out for any swaps your fellow students or the Residences Team are organising.
It’s not just Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – you can also Rent
There are lots of places where you can now rent an outfit for a special occasion rather than buying it new.
Repair and repurpose your clothes
If you can, try to repair your clothes instead of throwing them away, or alter them to give them a new look. There are more and more repair cafés popping up around the country, and some brands even offer repairs on their products.
Look behind claims on labels
During the hearing, the panel pointed out that while terms like ‘organic cotton’ are protected, claims of ‘sustainable cotton’ may not be. As consumers, we can try to find out what is behind these claims to make sure brands are sticking to what they promise.
This year, to support King’s in our sustainability strategy and our goal to recycle 70% of our non-hazardous waste by 2019-20, King’s Residences have once again partnered with Better Re-use to help manage waste generated by students leaving halls of residence for the summer. Better Re-use successfully saved anything from used furniture to bedding and electrical items from going to landfill, allowing these things to live out second lives through partnerships with Oxfam, Shelter and other charitable organisations across London.
How It Worked
Over 13 collections, and with the great assistance and enthusiasm of all Residence Managers, staff, cleaners, volunteers and students involved, Better Re-use collected waste from our four directly managed halls of residence: Stamford Street, Great Dover Street, Wolfson House and Champion Hill. They then sorted, weighed and arranged the distribution of the materials collected.
The partnership was a huge success. This was down to two main factors. First, better communication with students on how to deal with their waste on departure directly led to the substantial quantities gathered. Secondly, our partnership with Better Re-use allowed the re-distribution of duvets, pillows and carbon dense materials that were previously difficult to divert from landfill.
Particular progress was made at Great Dover Street, where more awareness was created via communications from the King’s Residences team. The hall contributed an additional 34% over 2017. Better Re-use estimates that 362 students engaged with the scheme, approx. 23% of total leavers. On average, 2.06kg of waste was received from each student (a 32% increase) and collections overall were up 10%.
Across the four residences, King’s managed to divert 3,261 kg from landfill – a 10% increase from 2017, diverting 37,611kg CO2e – a 20% increase on the year. This represents a 99% re-use rate, with nothing going to landfill.
Where Did It All Go?
The re-usable goods collected from our students went to support a variety of charities, including:
Which diverted reusable furniture, small electrical items and bric-a-brac, providing jobs and volunteering opportunities for the socially excluded, or people looking to get back into work.
St Mungo’s East London (https://www.mungos.org/)
Works directly with people who are sleeping rough or in hostels and helping them to rebuild their lives and fulfill their ambitions.
Oxfam was able to put most of the clothing items up for resale in their shops, while other dirty or damaged clothing items went to their central sorting warehouse to be sent either to shops or to Oxfam projects abroad.
The effort that the King’s Residence teams have put into making this a success is amazing, and we look forward to seeing the figures for next year’s big summer clear out!
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.
After 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.
November 1, 2017 / / Comments Off on Meet Josh, our Waste to Resource Project Coordinator
Hello! Well, where do I start? I’ve been tasked to sort out all of your rubbish – which may be seen as a massive ‘waste’ of time. Okay, I’ll stop with the waste puns right now. My formal title is Waste to Resource Project Coordinator, which entails me helping King’s to achieve it’s 2018/19 goal of recycling 70% of all its commercial waste, along with aligning waste practices across the King’s estate.
Since joining the team in August 2017 I have implemented coffee cup recycling across certain sites with the message that “King’s is taking responsibility for the waste it generates”. It’s important that the University looks to mitigate its effect on the environment and this a great way to get the ball rolling and promote a circular economy. I am currently working with the newly appointed waste provider, Simply Waste Solutions, to rationalise the bin systems we have in place to ensure our cleaning team have the tools to achieve our 70% recycling goal. Once this has been accomplished I’ll be looking at the bin provisions within our buildings, ensuring that 70% of all the bins inside are designated for recycling, giving you a 70% chance of recycling your waste. “70” is the golden number and by applying this to everything we do I have no doubt we WILL achieve our target by 2018/19.
I have been working alongside King’s for a number of years, helping to assist the cleaning team with the integration of non-chemical based cleaning products, and working on efficient waste management. I then migrated to the King’s facilities team at the Strand, working in Operations to improve student facilities including the roll out of Deluxe Bike Stands across the King’s Estates.
I am always open to innovative ideas and pragmatic approaches to dealing with waste, so if you have any ideas please do get in contact with me. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org or you can get in touch at email@example.com.
Away from waste, I’m also the Co-Chair of the King’s LGBT+ Staff Network promoting Diversity & Inclusion in the institution and working with departments and faculties to promote a fair and comfortable environment for LGBT+ people at King’s. If you are a staff member and would like to hear about events, volunteering opportunities or just meet up with fellow LGBT+ colleagues email firstname.lastname@example.org to join the newsletter.