Tag Archives: Reducing waste

Flo Hinder takes on Plastic Free July challenge!

Flo 3Fourth-year Civil Eng student Flo is one of the UC students who is going plastic free during Plastic Free July. Plastic Free July aims to raise awareness of the amount of single-use disposable plastic in our lives and challenges people to do something about it. Flo shared some of her plastic free tips with us, and why she is doing it.  

What will you try to do during July? To cut out all waste actually, not just plastic! This means not purchasing single use items, no wastage (not even recycling!). However, I will use the organics collection bin because it’s a super system in Christchurch for making compost.

Why are you doing the challenge? I think waste and consumerism have become two really big problems in today’s society. So many items are being created just for convenience, driven by purely short-term thinking and yet this will ruin us in the long term. I also think the University should really try cut down its waste more, with so many (food) places having only the option of single use items. By doing this challenge I want to show people that it is possible to live without creating as much waste!

What do you think is going to be hard? I think going out for dinner, and going for drinks/social occasions will be challenging as it’s not a social norm to carry around your own container or glass to drink from! I also think being able to resists bargains when I am shopping will be hard, even when they are wrapped in single use plastic.

CupWhat are some of your favourite waste-free items? I have a little cup set that I keep in my bag 24/7 just in case I want a beverage on the go, and there are only plastic cups. I am also pretty passionate about waste-free bathroom products. I have a safety razor that is not made of plastic and can be reused. The one I have cost about $13 and came in only cardboard packaging with tonnes of little refill blades and it works a treat! I also love my trusty bamboo toothbrush, just google ‘bamboo toothbrush’ and you’ll find heaps of options. Instead of bottled shampoo or soap, I use shampoo bars and soaps. I order mine locally from Ethique, which is run by a UC alumna! I recommend trying out the starter packs. I use a menstrual cup for that time of the month, the UC pharmacy stocks them or you can find them (cheaper) online, and I honestly think it was the best purchase I have ever made!

BambooWant more info on plastic free bathroom products? Check out

Are you keen to take on the Plastic Free July challenge too? You don’t have to go all out! You can choose to do it for a week or the whole month and you can either refuse ALL single-use plastic or the TOP 4: plastic bags, water bottles, takeaway coffee cups and straws. Have a look on the website for ideas on how to get started (and no, you don’t need to sign up)!

This message was brought to you by the UC Sustainability Office. Connect with us through Facebook or Instagram. Or email us: sustainability@canterbury.ac.nz

You can now recycle your soft plastics!

Photo credit: Soft Plastic Recycling

Crisp packets, rice bags, candy wrappers … you can now recycle them! Have you seen these bins in your local supermarket and wondered,  what can I put in it?

The Love NZ Soft Plastic Recycling Programme is a new industry-led recycling programme that diverts soft plastics from landfill and turns them into new products.

New Zealanders use around 1.6 billion plastic bags every year, that means that 4.3 million are thrown away each day! These soft plastic bags are not currently collected for recycling by councils because they can contaminate the recycling process.

What plastic do the bins take? It takes all soft plastic bags including bread bags, frozen food bags, toilet paper packaging, confectionery and biscuit wraps, chip bags, pasta and rice bags, courier envelopes, shopping bags, chocolate and muesli bar wrappers, sanitary hygiene packaging . Anything made of plastic that can be scrunched into a ball. Make sure the plastic is reasonably clean and dry.

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Photo credit: Soft Plastic Recycling

Where? You can find your closest store on the store locator. Currently the project is focused on supermarkets and retailers but this may extend to educational institutions (like UC!).

What happens after collection? The plastic is collected by Abilities Group, an organisation established to create meaningful employment for people with disabilities. The collected plastic is sent to Australia where it is transformed into robust plastic products like outdoor furniture, bollards and recycling bins.

What else can you do? Reducing plastic is still the best option. So think about:

– Shop in bulk or trash free: There is Bin Inn of course and shops like Piko Wholefoods Co-Operative and Harbour Co-op.

– Getting a string bag for your fruit and vege in addition to your cloth shopping bag. Check out these organic ones

– Reduce your food wrapping waste by getting (or making) a non-plastic one e.g. Honeywrap or Keep Leaf

This message was brought to you by the UC Sustainability Office. Connect with us through Facebook or Instagram. Or email us: sustainability@canterbury.ac.nz

UC’s Sustainable Furniture: You might be sitting on Banks Peninsula wool!

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 When we talk about sustainability, it’s often about waste or energy but not about procurement (how UC buys its goods from external parties). That’s a shame because UC’s procurement of “new” furniture has great sustainability features! We had a chat to Shelley Ranson from UC Procurement.

What does your team do? We provide purchasing and procurement services to UC.  In terms of Sustainability, we want to maximise social and economic benefits, and minimise damage to health and the environment. Often this means taking time to explore possibilities. For instance, by talking openly with supply partners we encourage them to review their existing sustainability initiatives and explore new opportunities. The Furniture Project is a recent example of this. 

The Furniture Project? With several major new buildings, it wasn’t possible to furnish from existing stock, and a lot of new furniture was required. We selected four preferred supplies and a core catalogue range.

What sustainable features does the new furniture have? The core range furniture has the following features:

  • Environmentally responsible manufacturing: Materials are low emission, sustainably sourced and designed for disassembly at end-of-life
  • Socially responsible manufacturing: Chain of custody for manufacture particularly with regard to working conditions of off-shore labour
  • Durability: E.g. AFRDI* and BIFMA** accreditation. This means the furniture is tough enough to withstand the high wear and tear environment of a university and won’t break or wear out as quickly as standard furniture
  • Ergonomic features: So workplace health and safety is supported
  • Future reuse or recycling potential: The ability to relocate furniture for continued use around campus by establishing a standard range of furniture
  • Excellent warranty periods: Reducing whole-of-life costs and extending the functional life of the furniture.

Developing a transparent supply chain has enabled us to understand the source materials and the location of manufacturing of our core range. Some of the selected products are locally manufactured in New Zealand. One example is the brand of soft seat covering of which the wool is produced from Banks Peninsula sheep!

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And the old furniture, what happens to it? A robust disposal guideline is being followed, which means, for instance, that any furniture that can be reused will be stored. We are also reviewing options for re-covering existing chairs to extend their life cycle. Obsolete items are at times given away or sold to local schools, education charities or UC staff/students. Our furniture storage partner (Allied Pickfords) has several partnerships, including charities, to facilitate this. Obsolete items are broken into component parts for scrap and recycling. Landfill is a last resort for damaged items that cannot be re-used, gifted or recycled in any way.

Finally, what are some of the other sustainable procurement initiatives? One is our collaboration with Futureworks, our Audio-Visual (AV) supplier. At the design stage, they advise on environmentally friendly options for installations (e.g. RMS is a solution that reduces energy consumption by remotely turning off equipment in empty rooms). Another exciting collaboration is with our preferred catering suppliersThey engage in a variety of activities, like supporting local producers where possible, using fair trade products, offering BYO mug options or arranging for food waste to go to farms.

The University is in a great position to instigate change within supply chains and to support sustainability at a local business level.

This message was brought to you by the UC Sustainability Office. Connect with us through Facebook or Instagram. Or email us: sustainability@canterbury.ac.nz

*Australasian Furnishing Research and Development Institute **Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association

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