Tag: Waste (page 1 of 3)

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.

 

 

 

 

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!

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.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Sustainability Week 2018

Every year we hold Sustainability Week in order to raise awareness and educate staff and students about sustainability at King’s. This year we worked with student groups, King’s departments and external partners to bring to you a week based around the theme of how you can ‘make a difference’. Here are some reflections on the week…

Sustainability Pop up: This year for Sustainability Week we hosted an interactive stall across King’s campuses. We gave you the chance to win a Keep Cup by correctly guessing how long it took everyday items to degrade (many people were shocked to find out that it can take a plastic bottle up to 450 years to degrade!), quizzed you about how to correctly recycle at King’s and played a game to see if staff and students know how to use or special coffee cup bins (remember, #fliptipslip!).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VegFest: Studies show that a veganism can reduce the environmental impact that your diet has, and reducing the amount of milk and dairy we consume can positively affect climate change. In collaboration with EcoSoc we hosted a VegFest with free samples of vegan cheese (thanks to Bute Island Food who were also kind enough to donate last year). Students and staff brought delicious dishes for everyone to try, talked about the environmental impact of the food we eat and discussed the issues surrounding veganism.

Careers Events: Sustainability is more and more becoming an integral part of business and big organisations. King’s Careers and Employability hosted a successful event during Sustainability Week with guests from law firm Allen & Overy, Good Business and our Head of Sustainability Kat Thorne. The event was designed to help students understand how they can find internships and develop their career in sustainability. For more information please visit King’s Internships.

Cycling: In the Sustainability Team we do everything we can to promote cycling at King’s. Because of this we held four Dr Bike sessions. These sessions provided free bike checks to students and staff throughout the week. Mechanics changed bike pads, checked chains and for whatever they couldn’t fix, gave accurate quotes for how much it should cost to get repaired.

Geography Documentary Screening: The Geography Department Sustainability Champions and King’s Climate hosted a film screening of former US Vice President and environmental activist Al Gore’s latest film ‘An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power’. A panel beforehand made up to PhD students, lecturers and Dr George Adamson  discussed our response to climate change and the best ways to tackle the issue.

GoodGym: King’s GoodGym is a community of runners that combines getting fit with doing good. For this session the runners went to Oasis Farm Waterloo, and urban farm and community resource, to help to make planters for trees. King’s GoodGym is a great way to get fit and to also to help the local community. Read more about the Sustainability Week session on our blog.

Temple Gardening Club Winter Pruning: We teamed up with the Northbank BID to bring you this gardening session at Temple gardens. Staff and students braved the cold weather to prune rose bushes ready for regrowth in the spring.

SGDP Sustainable Labs Tour: Labs consume 3-10 times more energy per square metre than normal academic spaces like lecture theatres or offices. As a research university, King’s manages a variety of energy-intensive labs across its campuses, which is why it’s so important to make our labs as sustainable as possible. This tour of the laboratory at the Social, Genetic & Developmental Psychiatry Centre was led by Bernard Freeman, Lab Sustainability Champion. The SGDP lab has achieved a Gold Award at the 2017 King’s Sustainability Awards, and Bernard was a Finalist in the 2017 Green Gown Awards for his efforts in embedding sustainability into labs.

This year Sustainability Week was all about how you can make a difference, which you showed us you can do in so many ways! From volunteering, bringing in homemade vegan food to finding out how you can develop your career in sustainability, you showed us exactly what the King’s Community is capable of!

Waste and recycling at King’s

All this week our lovely staff Sustainability Champions have been learning all about waste and recycling at King’s and how they can help us achieve our targets.

So what are our sustainability targets?

  • 43% reduction in our carbon footprint from our 2005-06 baseline
  • Reduce absolute water consumption by 2% each year
  • Achieve 70% recycling of non hazardous waste by 2020

SUSTAINABILITY ICONS - DISC - LIME AND PEA - RECYCLING - HI RESSUSTAINABILITY ICONS - DISC - LIME AND PEA - WATER - HI RESSUSTAINABILITY ICONS - DISC - LIME AND PEA - CARBON - HI RES

Last year King’s produces 3663 tonnes of waste. That’s 20x as heavy as a house!

Our goal by 2020 is to ensure that 70% of this waste is recycled. In order to make this happen we have implemented a number of changes. Previously King’s worked with over 40 different contractors in order to dispose of our waste. This year we have worked hard to reduce that down to around 10, the main one of which is Simply Waste. The benefit of working with Simply Waste as one of our primary contractors is not only that they operate a zero waste to landfill policy, but also that every time one of our bins are collected it is weighed so we know exactly how much general waste and recycling we are producing. That data is passed on to us monthly so, crucially, if we implement any new policies or initiative we can see the benefit (or lack of) in real time. In this way it is much easier for us to tell what changes we need to make in order to improve our recycling rates.

So where are we now? Currently we are recycling 39% of our waste, so we still have a way to go before we hit our 60% target!

campus berakdown

So how can you help us to improve our recycling rates?

  • We have this handy A-Z of waste guide which will tell you everything you need to know about disposing of all different kinds of items at King’s
  • Check out the bin in your areas. Are they correctly labelled with clear signage and is it possible to relabel them so 2/3 of the bins are recycling?
  • Make sure you and your colleagues are aware of Warp-it, our online sharing platform for office and lab items

 

If you have any questions about waste and recycling in your area then don’t hesitate to contact us at sustainability@kcl.ac.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.

 

Meet Josh, our Waste to Resource Project Coordinator

 

Photo of Josh2Hello! 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 josh.pullen@kcl.ac.uk or you can get in touch at sustainability@kcl.ac.uk.

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 lgbtnetwork@kcl.ac.uk to join the newsletter.

Biodegradable reusable water bottles now available at King’s

King’s branded reusable water bottles are now available to purchase at King’s Food outlets from 2 October 2017.

These reusable plastic bottles are biodegradable, helping to further reduce our environmental impact and improving our sustainable catering. The King’s water bottles are available to purchase for £2.90.

BottleWe are supporting the #OneLess bottle campaign to reduce the amount of single-use water bottles that are used at King’s. Adults in the UK use almost 7.7 billion single-use plastic water bottles every year, which is approximately 150 per person. There are a number of water fountains at the university, and though disposable cups can be found at King’s Food outlets, staff and students are encouraged to bring their own reusable bottle or purchase one of the King’s reusable bottles.

This year there have been a number of other sustainability achievements at the university. King’s became a member of the Sustainable Restaurant Association and in August was awarded with Fairtrade University status. Fairtrade food and drink that is available to purchase at King’s Food venues includes tea and coffee, sugar, muffins, chocolate and more. Coffee cup recycling bins were also introduced across the university in September to tackle the issue that disposable cups cannot be recycled with standard mixed recycling or paper recycling.

Tips about eating and drinking sustainably can be found on our Sustainability pages. There is also a Fairtrade and Sustainable Food steering group which meets regularly and is open to all. If you would like to find out more, please contact sustainability@kcl.ac.uk.

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! 

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