Last year, the University had a waste audit for campus waste conducted. The analysis detailed what users at the University of Sheffield are recycling and led to a number of observations about what we can do to improve our recycling rates.

Audits like our waste analysis are crucial in demonstrating what the University does well and what we can do to improve. This is vitally important as we know the environmental damage that is associated with a single use approach to resources and materials. At Sheffield, we are committed to embedding circular economy principles into all of our activities. 

MEL Waste Insights analysed two half-tonne bulk deliveries of waste materials (one general waste and one mixed recycling) collected from the bins on the main campus. 

The waste was sorted by hand into 20 material categories and weighed, the aim of which was to determine:

  • How much recyclable material (i.e. those materials that are acceptable in the recycling bin) is in the general waste stream
  • The level of contamination in the mixed recycling (i.e. non target materials)
  • The quantities of other materials in the general waste.

Headline figures from the analysis indicated that:

  • 42.29% of the waste generated on campus was recyclable through the recycling collection provided by Premier
  • 26.6% of the general waste was recyclable material
  • The contamination rate in the mixed recycling was 9.58%.

The full picture painted by the waste analysis is being used to inform work on campus to drive up recycling rates and to reduce the total waste produced. In the coming year, a new waste tender will take place as the University reviews its waste needs and looks to continue to drive a sustainable approach to waste management.