Tag Archives: sustainability

UC charges up for the future

In a world where energy efficiency and sustainable practices are becoming crucial, electrical vehicles are the way of the future. Bloomberg predicts that by 2040 globally, 35% of vehicles on the road will be electrically powered.

A Life Cycle analysis commissioned the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) has found that electric vehicles (EVs) are better for the New Zealand environment than petrol or diesel powered vehicles, across the lifecycle of the vehicle as well as in use.

UC has now entered into a partnership with Orion and Meridian Energy to install an Electrical Vehicle Charger on the University’s Ilam campus to support this growing trend in electrical vehicles.

The UC charging station is now operational and is one of a network of public charging stations being established around Christchurch and its surrounding districts. Orion are installing the stations, and Meridian Energy are supplying the power.

Currently there are 16 stations across the city and surrounds, with a target of 20 plus by March 2017. You can find the location and type of these stations through an online map which also indicates chargers that are currently in use.

The UC station is a standard public station with capacity to charge two cars. Two adjacent car parks close to the Security Office have been restricted for use by electrical vehicles only. While there will be no charge for power, usual parking permits will be required.

If you have any questions about the UC station contact Tony Sellin Energy Manager, Engineering Services.

Sustainapalooza – travelling smart

21106675_10154935808387336_6038527362664806228_nLife can be stressful and expensive – and that’s without the added pressure of driving to University every day! Sadly, these drives are also the most harmful to the environment. During short commutes and stop-start city driving your car engine does not have adequate time to warm up, which means that fuel is burnt less efficiently and your car’s emissions are at their highest. So what’s a poor student to do? UC’s Sustainability Office team explores the solutions as part of the lead in to Sustainapalooza.

Sustainable transport is the answer! Whether you’re a barefooted CUBA kook on a skateboard or a group of flatties sharing a carpool, there are plenty of alternatives that are not only kinder on your mind, body and wallet, but better for the environment too. Figure out what sustainable transport option is right for you:

Walking

Too often we forget the simple pleasures offered by getting somewhere on our own two feet. Whether you spend this time listening to music or chatting with your mates, walking is a great way to soak up the scenery and boost your energy levels to get you ready for the day.

 Cycling

Ditching the car and jumping on the bike might make that 2000 word essay easier to tackle. Cycling improves your brain function, releases endorphins and lowers your stress levels, whilst keeping those pesky winter bugs at bay by strengthening your cardiovascular and immune systems. It’s a great way to enjoy the beauty of the garden city, and for every 1km you choose to bike instead of drive, you will save enough CO2 to keep a 60 watt light bulb running for five hours!

Taking the bus

Need to catch up on lecture notes or cram for a test? Tag your mates in some memes? Schedule in your afternoon nap? Bussing takes away the stress of driving and gives you a period of free time to use as you please, whilst lowering the congestion on the roads and the pollution in the air.

Carpooling

Cutting down on driving isn’t always easy, especially for those who live far from campus or who need to travel throughout the day. Carpooling is a sustainable travel option that lowers the cost, stress and environmental impact of driving, while making the commute more social and enjoyable. Exciting plans are underway to extend the Smart Travel initiative to UC, which makes it easy to arrange safe, shared rides for both frequent and one-off trips.

 To learn more about the Smart Travel initiative click here>

UC Sustainability Office

Sustainapalooza – celebrating sustainability

Get ready for a week-long festival of sustainability, celebrating the best of what people are doing to create a sustainable future!

Sustainapalooza is on 18-22 September, with the Sustainability Awards Ceremony on Thursday 21 September.

This festival brings together students, staff and the wider community, and showcases a range of sustainability initiatives. These include a market day hosted by UC’s Eco Clubs, e-bike trials and a cycle cinema, a tasting session, a spotlight on green building and a garden party to wrap the week up… plus heaps more. Check out the full Sustainapalooza programme here.

See you there!

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

SUSTAINAPALOOZA’S SUSTAINABILITY AWARDS

Get ready for a week-long festival of sustainability, celebrating the best of what people are doing to create a sustainable future!

This festival brings together students, staff and the wider community, and showcases a range of sustainability initiatives. These include a market day hosted by UC’s Eco Clubs, e-bike trials and a cycle cinema, a tasting session, a spotlight on green building and a garden party to wrap the week up… plus heaps more. Check out the full Sustainapalooza programme here.

ENGS6706_Sustainability_Awards_Intercom

During the week we will also be celebrating the 2017 UC Sustainability Awards. These are a great chance to acknowledge the hard work, the innovation, imagination, optimism and endurance of many of our students and staff beavering away to make our world a greener place. Nominations for the Awards are open until the end of August. If you know someone whose work deserves acknowledgement, nominate them! The nomination form can be found here.

Nominations for the 2017 UC Sustainability Awards are open from 1-31 August.

The Supreme Winner this year will win a package trip to one of the South Island’s best little towns – Hokitika – via a stunning journey through the Alps on the Tranz Alpine train.

Sustainapalooza is being held 18-22 September. The Sustainability Awards Ceremony is Thursday 21 September.

See you there!

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

Take Away Lessons about cups

Dr Matt Morris from UC’s Sustainability Office looks at the issue of compostable and recyclable cups and shares thoughts on some of our campus experiences.

Takeaway culture has meant that the volume of disposable packaging in our global waste stream has increased to staggering levels; estimates vary, but perhaps 500 billion disposable cups are thrown away annually across the globe (58 billion in the US, 2.5 billion in the UK, almost 1 billion in Australia). In Aotearoa New Zealand, 100-200 million disposable cups are used annually.

When we at UC were first told, back in 2013, that takeaway coffee cups would soon no longer be accepted by our recycler, we knew we had to do something. Takeaway cups had become a classic waste issue, and we were extremely unhappy about this retrogressive change. So ahead of the change, we introduced a trial to collect coffee cups and send them away for composting. Blue Bins specifically for coffee cups began to appear on our campus. Since then our small trial at UC has diverted around 50,000 cups from landfill.

For those who ask, “why can’t they all just be composted?” or, “why can’t we just only use compostable cups?” there is a long-winded answer.

There are many kinds of takeaway cups on the market. Each brand of cup may need a different treatment – and this is way beyond what anyone can manage locally. Generally, these have water-proofing lining in them. Sometimes this is wax or polyethylene. Sometimes it is a poly-lactic acid (PLA) plastic lining. ‘Compostable’ cups also have this PLA lining, which is derived from plant materials. This lining is partly what prevents cups being accepted now for recycling, because it needs to be stripped out before the paper can be made usable again. Practically no one can do this currently. And for compostable cups, that PLA is often derived from corn starch that has been made from genetically modified corn.

Then there is some important consumer education to do. Cups are notoriously contaminated: think milk foam and soggy marshmallows, or how they get used as mini-rubbish bins for apple cores, pie wrappers and god knows what else. And don’t get me started about lids. We really want to encourage our UC community to only put cups in the blue bins – with nothing else in them (please!). We have invested in signage that is as explicit as we can make it to limit contamination at the front end.

At the back end of our system we have someone sorting the cups so what we send away is clean – it is great if she does not have to sort through anything other than cups (another good reason to not contaminate the blue bins!) Our trial has been mostly focused on testing how people will use a separate collection point for coffee cups and what kind of resource would be required to maintain this system. So far, we think it has been a success.

So, what are we doing with these cups?
At UC we sell a mix of cups that claim to be recyclable or compostable (remember, these are very different). For the first loads, we sent mixed cups to two composting facilities Selwyn and Waimakiriri District Council facilities, and the results were good. We didn’t test for any chemical residue, but the composting part worked fine. However, that option came to an end, and we are now having the cups baled until a better option is developed. Luckily, that is in process.

Three composting trials of compostable coffee cups and other ‘service ware’ items have been undertaken in Christchurch this year, and the results are extremely promising. All of the trials were successful, in that the packaging all broke down sufficiently. This is great. For UC, this means we understand a lot more about which products we could require vendors to sell.

There are still challenges. For example, Living Earth cannot take all the compostable packaging: some has the PLA lining and, as a BioGro certified organic company, they cannot take product that is derived from GMO materials. The fact that it has been denatured and contains no genetic material is not the point; upstream production of the raw material is also taken into account.

It is an evolving process, and we need to remain responsive to opportunities as they arise, always keeping our eyes on the prize: finding new ways to send our waste to the earth as safely as possible.

Want to reduce waste further? It’s Plastic Free July

Connect with UC’s Sustainability office through Facebook or Instagram or email us: sustainability@canterbury.ac.nz