Tag Archives: Sustainable campus

Annual Sustainability Report

A few months ago, the Sustainability Office released its annual report for 2015.

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After a busy year it is illuminating to look back at some highlights and achievements.

Sustainability planning at the University of  Canterbury is based on the draft ‘Sustainability Strategy 2012-2022’, which breaks sustainability planning into short, medium and long term objectives. Annual planning for sustainability at UC is handled by the Sustainability Office and the operational elements of this are part of the Engineering Services Operational Plan.

This 2015 report, for the first time, presents the continuous data  since 2009. This helps to paint a picture of our overall sustainability performance, and helps us to identify some gaps in our current reporting framework (like biodiversity/ecological health data).

Certain indicators are trending in a positive direction, including more people attending Community Gardens working bees, increased levels of engagement through social media, and an increase in the number of cost centres purchasing Fair Trade certified products for their kitchens.

There has also been a significant shift in student attitudes with respect to knowledge about sustainability practices and future employment: students indicate sustainability is important to them. Other indicators remain in a steady state or are exhibiting a negative trend. The volumes of waste sent to landfill continues to increase, with a concurrent decrease in recycling an organics which is particularly concerning.

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

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Blue Bins and Worm Farms

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As Semester Two starts you’ll notice more Blue Bins for take-away cups around campus! These bins are part of our initiative to reduce waste going to landfill. All take-away cups collected in the Blue Bins are taken off-site for composting. This will be Phase II of a trial to test the system and this trial will end in December 2016.

It is extremely important that only cups are placed in these bins. No pie wrappers, or bottles or any other contaminant. While we do sort the cups before we send them away, we need that process to be very fast and efficient in order for our trial to receive funding. Please help us keep this project going by telling your mates about it and not to contaminate the bins!

What happens to the cups in the Blue Bins? These cups are sorted on site to make sure there is no contamination in them. So far contamination is minimal, which is great. Then they are taken out to the Selwyn District Council’s HotRot facility by Rolleston where they are put through a mechanical composting system with other compostable waste products and turned into compost for your garden.

Why can’t we just put them in the green bins? Coffee cups must not go in the green organics bins. The contents of green bins go to a composting plant that cannot process takeaway cups (even if they say they are ‘compostable’). Coffee cups in the blue hooded bins are sent to a different composting facility that is able to compost them.

So why don’t we send all our organics waste to the composter that can do it all? Because of our contractual arrangements with our waste services provider, it is not economically efficient to do this. We are working together to find a solution that will work for everyone.

What about composting them on-site? We have been exploring options to do this for a number of years. We are currently looking into large scale worm composting. Wouldn’t it be marvellous to use the compost in the community gardens, for example? Or use it to grow salad greens and herbs to make student lunches? We think so too. But we need to get a back end system in place first that works (hence our trial), we need more physical space than is currently available (due to remediation works) and we may require some capital (which will not be available for a couple of years).

What difference does it make? We estimate that the UC community produces more than five tonnes of waste from coffee cups alone every year. So in the first instance, that’s five tonnes we can keep out of Kate Valley Landfill. However, the beauty of this initiative is that it means we may be able to shift from using plastic plates, sushi containers, trays, burger clams etc, etc, etc to compostable alternatives, that could then all be put into the Blue Bins. We are setting up a system to help us deal with a much bigger waste issue than many people realise.

So, thank you again for helping us to make this work. It’s a step towards closing our waste loop and leaving the world better than how we found it!

Keep up to date with Sustainability news at UC through our Facebook page. Or through our website.

The moving feast of bike parking on campus

The moving feast of bike parking on campus continues, and we are doing our best to keep up with it as buildings open and close. As we do this we are also settling some new permanent cycle parking areas (Matariki, Science Lawn, Music/Law for example).

How down are we on pre-earthquake levels? Since 2013 there has been a net increase of over 300 bike stands, but that was starting with a loss of over 700 bike stands since the earthquakes. We are still down by 455 bike parking spaces.

What are we doing about this? Gradually, as funding and space becomes available, we are replenishing our bike parking facilities. You may have noticed that in front of Geography there is now parking for an additional 140 bikes, for example. These bike stands look a bit different from the ones we usually get because they are on loan until the new stands we have purchased arrive. There will then be space for 200 bikes in that area.

What about Engineering? We receive a lot of inquiries and complaints from the School of Engineering about the lack of bike stands around the School. This is partly because the main bike stands are closed while Engineering is refurbished, and because the main remaining bike parking area (between Civil and Mechanical) is a very tight space in the middle of a construction site. We have crammed as many bike stands as we think we safely can into that area, but we really are pressed for space regarding putting additional stands in there. We are looking into a few options (which would encroach on departmental carparking and storage space) and will keep the School posted on developments.

Matariki bike stands: The main bike parking area in the centre of campus is off University Drive by the Matariki/Registry building. We want to really encourage students visiting the library or other buildings in the centre of campus to use this space – we’ve discovered that most students don’t even know it’s there. So check it out: there’s always space there!

Keep up to date with Sustainability news at UC through our Facebook page or through our website.