Circularity and waste

circularity and waste - climate action strategyTo organize the activities of the university in a circular way, the entire product and services flow associated with these activities should be taken into consideration. From the purchasing decision, over the time of use, up to the disposal of the product or the end of the service.

Currently, purchases occur in a very decentralized way. This makes it very difficult to seize on purchasing decisions. According to the zero measurement analysis, most of the footprint of direct waste is from the incineration of non-hazardous and dangerous (medical, chemical) waste.

Goals

  • Integrate the principles of circular material use into the university’s operations.
     
  • Develop a central purchasing policy/guidelines.
     
  • Integrate sustainability criteria in all tenders.
     
  • Reduce packaging waste across all campuses and replace single use materials with reusable materials.
     
  • Raising awareness of employees and students regarding purchasing and waste and the impact of choices (e.g. no purchase versus cheapest purchase versus sustainable purchase).

Priority action points

  • Avoid purchases such that waste can be reduced: focus on the reduction of paper and cardboard waste, on reduction of waste generation during student events, on packaging waste: polystyrene, coolpacks, cardboard boxes,…
     
  • Purchasing: with offers, ensure the inclusion of conditions that relate to the reduction of packaging waste. Always include sustainability criteria in the evaluation of tenders (cleaning, green management, office material, printing, window cleaning, etc.). To forbid the purchasing of new material which is disposed after a single use.
     
  • Reuse: Focus on reuse of materials (e.g. furniture, office supplies, ,…) of personnel and students (internal or external). Food: Replace PLA and biodegradable packages by reusable packaging. Goodie bags: Pencils instead of pens (less plastic).
     
  • Sorting waste: Benefits can be obtained by making the presence of recycling bins uniform across campuses, while reducing individual bins in the offices. In student areas, sorting possibilities can be extended: separate bins for paper and cardboard and organic waste. Currently, the only sorting options are PMD and residual waste.
     
  • Recycling: to make paper removal a circular story. Now cardboard and paper are not separated which will lead to less qualitative recycled content. Focus on non-contaminated plastic waste from labs which are not being recycled at present.
     
  • Student-oriented actions: to incorporate a clear policy for single use materials and waste from student events. Reusable cups at every student event.

Challenges

  • Technical obstacles: for certain actions, it is unclear whether they can be technically implemented. The technical feasibility should be assessed first.
     
  • Legal obstacles: Fixed contracts. The UAntwerp has ongoing contracts with cleaning staff and waste collection companies. Only when these contracts end / need to be negotiated, major changes in waste management can be adopted.
     
  • To reduce waste and to improve sorting, reusing, and recycling at the campuses, changes will be required. Resistance to change is expected and proper change management strategies need to be considered.