Cupless Campus

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Following feedback from staff and students, a Students’ Union AGM meeting which voted for a reduction in disposable waste and a successful pilot over the summer months, the University has removed disposable cups from its refectories and coffee counters.

The decision to extend the trial period and make it a permanent policy arrives amid good feedback and take-up, and is part of our desire to lead the way in the sector for sustainability.

In the last academic year, over 154,000 hot drinks were served at the University, the vast majority of which were served in disposable cups, which are very difficult to recycle and also add to the University’s waste disposal costs. A survey of staff and students in May and June 2018 showed that the University community feel strongly that positive action should be taken to reduce the amount of waste produced.

The cupless policy has been made permanent with immediate effect.

Staff, students and visitors can either bring their own reusable cup, purchase a reusable cup from the outlet and have it available for all future coffee purchases, or use a china mug and sit-in to drink.

The SU also successfully lobbied that the prices for hot drinks in all outlets should be maintained as the same as last year.  A loyalty card scheme is also being introduced to reward you with a free cup of coffee for every nine purchased, which equates to an 11% discount each time you buy your favourite brew.

Madi Aziz, SU President, stated ‘This is a great step from the University to help reduce the amount of waste it produces.  Reducing disposable waste and plastic usage across all campuses is something that is important to students and so we are really pleased to see this positive change. We are also pleased that students can save money from engaging with the scheme and still get that all-important coffee fix!’

Students who are interested in sustainability can join the UniGlos Green Team Society, which is student-led and has some great ideas for the year ahead.

Why do we care about going cupless?

There are 2.5bn disposal coffee cups used in the UK each year, and only 1 in 400 being recycled. Why? Most normal recycling plants can’t process the cups because of the difficulty in removing the waterproof plastic lining inside from the paper outside.

This means that even if you are recycling your cups, they’ll probably all end up in the same place: a landfill. The thin plastic polyethylene skin in cups supplied by coffee chains is resistant to degradation and could take around 30 years to break down. If they don’t reach landfill, then they end up as litter on our streets, or in the marine environment! 

In the marine environment the plastic lining can be ingested by birds, fish, turtles and other creatures, sometimes with fatal results. Alarmingly, a 2016 World Economic Forum report said that the world was on track to have more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050.

Bringing your own reusable cup for your morning brew helps to cut unnecessary waste, and saves resources. With 150 million of these being used across higher and further education institutions, we have the opportunity to make a bold statement and make a move to a more sustainable future!


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