Tag: Waste (page 1 of 4)

Is this a futuristic dystopian village or an anaerobic food processing plant?

This week’s guest blog comes courtesy of Jane Picciano, who is a Sustainability Champion working in the Library Services Team at King’s.

King’s Food waste goes to Anaerobic Digestion (AD), which helps to meet the following Sustainable Development Goals:

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.

The first stage for the food waste: the ‘mouth’ of the plant before reaching the ‘stomachs’ of the AD tanks.

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.

Shredded plastic from the food waste packaging and plastic bags the waste was delivered in

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.

The pile of ‘chicken & rice’ (which is really a bland oatmeal mixture)

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 images below.

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

King’s Sustainable Entrepreneurs: Woodsloth’s Bamboo Straws

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 (woodsloths@gmail.com) 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!

Easy & Everyday Tricks to Reduce Your Plastic Use

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!

Eco Friendly Christmas Part II – Gifts

Gifts

There are many sustainable gifts you can buy your loved ones – for example:

Are they a foodie?

You could buy your loved one’s sustainable gifts such as great Fairtrade chocolate or coffee.

For example, Seed & Bean, Meaningful Chocolate, Rawr Choc or Grumpy Mule coffee. 

Are they into health and wellbeing?

Sustainable Yoga mat

Exercise helps to nurture wellbeing but lots of yoga mats are made from PVC and other harmful materials.

This brand does amazing biodegradable yoga mats made with vegetable fibres that look pretty too!

Liforme is also a great brand making sustainable yoga mats. However, they are on the more expensive end, but will still make a great investment for an avid Yogi wanting to invest more into their mat and the environment.

Homemade gifts

Why not make them something special and personalised?

For example, a homemade candle. Candles are very simple to make, click here for a simple, step-by-step tutorial on how to make one.

Plant-based waxes such as rapeseed or soy are the better option compared to paraffin waxes which can pose health risks. When paraffin is burnt, carcinogenic compounds (such as Acetaldehyde, Benzene, Formaldehyde) are released into the air. Plus, the use of paraffin encourages the discovery, refinement, distribution and consumption of crude oil. 

Plant wax candles also last longer than paraffin, are less likely to be blended with additives, are biodegradable and also vegan-friendly.

Some good waxes can be found here. Don’t forget you will also need to buy wicks – these can be bought from local haberdasher, which is also more sustainable through the support of local business, reducing delivery miles and reducing reliance on companies such as Amazon – which has questionable staff-treatment.

Making your own candles is great and it allows you to tailor the scent to the favourite smell of the person receiving the gift. You can buy a range of natural oils from Lavender (which is calming),  Rosemary (thought to boost memory and mental function) to frankincense (calming and extra-christmassy!). You can browse a range of natural oils available to purchase here and here 

Do they need to get the hint…?

If you are being driven crazy by someone’s unsustainable habits – why not nudge them in the right direction and give them some sustainable tools they can use in their daily life to make their life less wasteful and more efficient?

Reusable cup

Keepcup online allows your to design your own personalised cup. This sustainable nudge could be made special by designing their cup with their favourite colours.

Eco-lunchbox

The brand, ecolunchware makes lunchboxes from organic wheat straw – reducing plastic while helping your loved-one reduce food waste and save money (so long Tesco meal deals).

Bamboo straws

If your mate is always putting a plastic straw into their Christmas cocktail – why not get them a bamboo or metal straw which they carry with them to bring out when needed? 

Support a charity

Charities such as Amnesty International have a great catalogue of gifts – from an ‘Immigrant Cookbook‘ of which a portion of the profits will go to the Migrants Rights Network, to a bird nesting box and hanging planters. 

Wrapping Your Gift

There are many  brands which make wrapping paper out of recycled paper such as ‘ReWrapped‘. Gift bags such as this one are also great – as they can continuously be reused and save you lots of wrapping up time! 

If you receive a large gift – save the wrapping paper from it and use it for next year when you’re wrapping up future gifts. 

No Gifts

If you want to cut the consumerism of Christmas back – why not use the money you would have spent on the presents for a day out with your loved-one instead?  

Since last Christmas, my family and I decided to do this instead of giving gifts. Well, we give one gift each. But compare this to 10-20 gifts from the previous years this is quite a cutback. The pilot last year actually worked really well. My dad in particular was very hesitant, as he thought giving only one gift would make it seem like he didn’t care. However, this one gift Christmas taught him doing something together as a family actually allows you to share your love, excitement for Christmas and create memories together that gift-giving on Christmas morning doesn’t quite achieve. Opening gifts on Christmas morning is always enjoyable, but the memories and stories of trips and events done in replacement those gifts, to me, are much more powerful as well as long-lasting less wasteful. The no-gifts or one-gift Christmas may not be for everyone, but it’s worth thinking about and discussing with your loved-ones as an idea.

Can fashion be sustainable?

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:

  1. 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!
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.

If you are interested in finding out more about the inquiry, all the latest information is available on the Environmental Audit Committee webpages. The next public hearing is taking place on the 27th November, and will include witnesses from various fashion retailers.  You can also watch the full footage of this public evidence hearing here.

 

 

 

 

Student Halls Re-Use Scheme

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.

Great Results

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%.

 

The Figures

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:

Fara (http://www.faracharity.org/)

A charity which supports orphans and vulnerable or neglected children in Romania, providing education, employment training, healing of past trauma and most of all a loving family.

Shelter London (https://england.shelter.org.uk/)

Which works with people suffering bad housing or homelessness.

Bright Sparks Islington (http://directory.islington.gov.uk/kb5/islington/directory/service.page?id=6gvCBq_6XQQ)

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 (https://www.oxfam.org.uk/)

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.

Oxfam said:

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!

6 Tips For A Less Trashy Term Time #DontBeTrashy

This week’s guest blog comes courtesy of Ray Hopkinson, Project Coordinator at Hubbub. Hubbub is an environmental charity which works on engaging the public on social and environmental sustainability issues using a fresh approach to communicate with the public. As part of her role, Ray has worked with a number of companies to reduce food waste, for example, on Sainsbury’s ‘Waste Warriors’ initiative.

The views presented do not necessarily reflect those of King’s Sustainability.

6 Tips for a Less Trashy Term Time

September always makes me a bit nostalgic for the start of a new academic year and those heady days of fresher’s week, new mates, and a world of possibilities. Whether you’re heading off to student halls, a shared house or left university some time ago and are dreaming of those good-old days, these tips will help you save money and time and reduce rubbish around the home. Some of you will be keen for your new home to be as green as possible, but might find it a bit hard to get others on board and do it in a way that is fun and basically doesn’t kill the vibe! So if you want to win the war on rubbish, stay popular and have a good time, read on:

 

  • Plan- Think about your meals in advance. Try batch-cooking and use the leftovers for lunch or a quick meal another day. Batch cooking makes it easy to use up any veg, making it less likely to hang around and go mouldy (bringing your own lunch can also save you serious money in the canteen). The good news, is that leftovers taste even better the next day, and you’ll be really surprised how much you can save weekly and put towards your going out budget.

 

  • Communal Cooking- Coordinate meals and shopping with your house mates.  Share a fruit and vegetable box or cook a meal for everyone.  University can be lonely, but cooking a meal for your housemates or having friends over for dinner can be a great distraction to feeling homesick.

 

  • Skip the Takeaway- Takeaway meals can really eat up your budget and generate lots of single-use waste. Not to worry, we’ve re-created England’s favourite take-away recipes for you to make at home. These are both healthier and significantly cheaper than the late night takeout alternatives.

 

  • Don’t Put Money Down the Drain- Our bathroom regimes are responsible for 30 to 40 per cent of rubbish dumped in to the ground, so try swapping the shower gel for a much cheaper and longer lasting bar of soap, and you might also find that it doesn’t get used up by your housemates, bonus! There are lots of simple ways to make your own face masks, hair masks and even shampoo and it’s a great activity to do with your flat mates to help you relax after a stressful day.

 

  • Its Bulking Season- A simple but effective way to consume less is to buy (non-perishable) items in bulk or buy items that can be refilled. More and more shops are doing this now such as Unpackaged or if you’re looking for refills try Ecover. Here’s an extensive list of bulk stores across the UK.

 

  • Make Do and Mend- Read our top tips for giving your clothes a new lease of life. We all have a favourite pair of jeans that has one too many holes. It’s not (sew) difficult to mend your clothes, and much cheaper than buying new ones. Alternatively, if you’re bored with your wardrobe you can organise a clothes swap party. Most dry cleaners will replace a zip or do alterations but if anything is broken beyond repair make sure to take it to your nearest household recycling centre, where almost everything can be recycled.  You could also get inventive and give them a new use, e.g. rags from old t-shirts anyone?

 

Got some tips of your own? Get in touch using #DontBeTrashy and let us know how you’re getting on.

#DontBeTrashy is a collaboration between Kings’ College London and Hubbub to trial different techniques to encourage students to reduce their household waste and boost recycling rates in residences. Join the conversation on social media using #DontBeTrashy or download our handy Reuse Kit ‘How-to guide’ here for more helpful tips.

Win Prizes with Warp It

So far King’s has saved over £140,978 since we launched Warp It in 2016 and we’re giving you prizes to help to make that number even bigger!

How can you win?

We’re giving you prizes to share as many items as possible on Warp It. The user who uploads the most items by the 12 July 2018 will win a goodie bag of vegan treats!

What exactly is Warp It?

Warp It is a Freecycle style online platform that allows staff members from inside King’s to share unwanted furniture, office and lab equipment they no longer need. Every time an item is added to Warp It it is then available for staff members across King’s to claim, meaning that unwanted, good quality items are no longer being thrown away.

Did you know…?

Lab equipment can be put on to Warp It as well! Everything from electronic equipment to glassware can be shared and claimed on the platform.

Why is it important?

Warp It not only helps us to reduce the amount of waste that we produce, but it also saves users a large amount of time and money that they would otherwise have spent on purchasing new items. It helps to promote the ethos of reuse, reduce, recycle at King’s and encourages staff members to think about what they purchase, before they purchase it.

So far at King’s we have:

  • Saved over £140,978
  • Saved over 58,259kg of CO2, which would normally arise from waste disposal and buying new items
  • Avoided over 20,292kg of waste
  • Kept the equivalent of 25 cars off the road and saved 79 trees

Sign up to Warp It and start winning prizes today!


Sophia Courtney, Sustainability Projects Assistant

Thank you for a successful Reduce Waste Week

Well, what a week. We in the Sustainability Team had a raucous time shouting about waste as part of our Reduce Waste Week. Our aim was to reach out to the idle public and hit them with games, workshops and community events to engage, shock, and enlighten them to the growing waste problem and the need to REDUCE the amount we create in our everyday lives. Waste is a choice and not a given so we armed ourselves with facts, ideas and a giant raspberry costume and delved headfirst into the King’s community.

Our first event was a workshop on making your own toiletries. This DIY Lush event was fabulous with Sophia concocting a dreamy coconut and coffee grounds face scrub and a pure peppermint and bicarb toothpaste. All made with natural ingredients and in re-usable pots so we can say goodbye to Colgate and toothpaste tubes!

Our second event was the incredible Disco Soup. What is a Disco Soup you might ask? Well, we make soup – to Disco music! We hooked up with Plan Zheroes to scour Borough Market for food that was going to be thrown away by street vendors and collect it for donation. We then scurried back to set up shop in The Shed and had student volunteers prepare the veg while the marvellous SU chef cooked up a carrot soup, mushroom soup and coleslaw. We also manage to get our hands on two bins bags of artisan bread which usually sells at £4 a pop! It’s incredible the amount of food is thrown away – 25% of all farmed food is thrown away!!

Interspersed with these events we had pop-ups where we highlighted the issue of single-use items and how, if they’re not recycled or re-used, can stay in the environment for hundreds if not millions of years!!

In between all of this we were dressing up as fruit and pratting around, having a good time raising awareness about waste and how the only real way to solve the waste problem is to not create it in the first place.


Sophia Courtney, Sustainability Projects Assistant

We visited Westminster Waste

Last year King’s produced over 1888 tonnes of construction waste. With projects happening all over the university, from small refurbishments to major redevelopments  at Bush House and the Science Gallery, making sure that we properly dispose of any  construction waste produced on our sites is  important in helping to minimise our impact on the environment. So, what happens to  our construction waste? Working with our main contractors we aim to make sure our waste is managed responsibly. One of the sites that construction waste from our sites ends up at is  Westminster Waste’s depot near Greenwich. We visited the depot last month to see what happens.

In order to track the amount of waste produced,  and so that we know where it ends up, drivers log ‘Waste Transfer Notes’ for every collection detailing what they take away and when. All the lorries are weighed as they arrive at  the waste management plant, to make sure that we know exactly how much construction waste we are producing.

Once the  construction waste has arrived at the site it is sorted and processed by Westminster Waste. First of all large items are sorted out, then it is fed through  a trommel, which works like a giant sieve to sort timber into different sizes so that it can then be separated by its grading. The grade of the timber  dictates how Westminster Waste process it. All of the grade B timber, which is the most common type used in construction, is sorted and then used for biomass fuel for renewable energy in the UK.  Metals are re-melted directly into products worldwide. Similarly, all the plastics that are removed are either separated and reground into feedstock or reprocessed into new plastic products. After all this processing there is a small amount of residual waste left that cannot be recycled. This is shredded and proceed into high grade Solid Recovered Fuel which is then used for renewable power generation.

Whilst construction waste doesn’t count towards our 70% recycling target, since that only measures operational waste that students and staff can affect, it is important for us to know the waste generated by contractors on our sites is managed responsibly.

To read more about our commitments and objectives for responsible waste and resources management, see our Waste Management Policy.

For further guidance on recycling in King’s buildings, see our A-Z guide.

 

 

 

 

 

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