As a University, we hold people, the planet and all living things in the highest regard. Our strategy commits us to reducing our environmental impact and improving sustainability across the institution. Our third strategic priority for 2015 to 2020 is sustain - we are committed to making a positive environmental impact and contributing to a sustainable future. This is reflected across the institution – from the curriculum to our estate to the food we serve on campus. Read our Sustainability Statement.
The university has an Environmental Strategy which was signed off in 2018 and this is reported against annually detailing progress against targets set.
The university has committed to being carbon neutral by 2030, although we aspire to get there by 2025.
Biodiversity Action Plan
The University's Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) sets out the University's plans to create and enhance habitats and support wildlife across our campuses. We implemented our first BAP in 2012 in partnership with Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust. Projects completed included the creation of a wildlife pond, a butterfly garden, the allotments, wildflower planting and native hedgerow planting. The BAP was updated in 2016, after which followed a suite of surveys of King Alfred and West Downs quarters, and then again in 2021. This revision reflects the increasing hedgehog population on campus, following dedicated efforts by our students reflected in our Hedgehog Friendly Gold status.
BAP projects completed
In conjunction with the Wildlife Trust and the Students' Union, students and staff volunteers have taken part in small mammal monitoring, sycamore clearance in our wooded copse and pond clearance during 2017/18. We built three new hedgehog nest boxes for the campus, installed a camera in a great tit nest box and created new long grass habitats by reducing mowing regimes.
In the summer of 2018, volunteers from Hampshire Swifts surveyed the University campus and all University Managed Houses in the Winchester to establish Swift nesting locations. In Spring 2019, student volunteers worked with Hampshire Swifts to build new Swift nest boxes. Installation on University buildings and student properties across Winchester was interrupted by the Pandemic, but hope to be in place by Spring 2023 providing new nest sites for these magical birds.
Our wildflower banks continue to thrive and many areas of campus have been left unmowed the last couple of years to encourage and provide food for invertebrates.
We are also delighted to have joined the Hedgehog Friendly Campus (HFC) scheme in October 2019, and were awarded a prestigious Gold award after three years of hard work. This work has seen students and staff create hedgehog friendly habitats, set up feeding stations and help to survey hedgehog activity on campus.
Environmental Management System
The University of Winchester is currently working towards implementing the ISO 14001 Environmental Management System (EMS). We are doing so using the EcoCampus framework and this will cover the whole university estate. Reporting to senior management, an EMS Oversight Committee is in the process of being established and in 2021, we identified our Environmental Aspects Register and produced a Legal Register. A PESTLE analysis of the Political, Economic, Sociological, Technological, Legal and Environmental factors influencing the University will follow this Autumn, incorporating views from senior management and our students.
The university will be seeking formal accreditation for Bronze & Silver Eco Campus standard in the 2021/22 academic year.
Reuse, Recycling & Waste
The University is committed to reducing the total amount of waste produced through the running of campus services. We work with our staff, students, visitors and Procurement Team to achieve these reductions. Alongside waste reduction, we have set ourselves the ambitious recycling target of 80%.
The University is in an innovative waste and recycling contract with the Universities of Southampton, Solent, Portsmouth, Bournemouth, Bournemouth Arts and Southampton City College. Together, we form the South Coast Affinity Group (SCAG) and share our services, expertise, and vision of waste management, focusing on reuse and recycling.
The current academic year of 2021/22 has seen the recovery of recycling rates to pre Covid-19 levels which the University views as a great success considering the radical behavioural changes due to the pandemic. The University's current recycling rate in 2021/22 is 64%. This is up from 14% in January 2009, and matches the recycling rates achieved in 2018/19.
Since 2013 the University has not sent any waste to landfill instead waste which cannot be recycled is sent for energy recovery.
We operate a three-bin system across campus and in halls of residence for dry mixed recycling, general waste, and food waste. Food waste from halls, residences, catering outlets and office kitchens is sent for anaerobic digestion and our waste cooking oil is converted into biodiesel. We also collect other forms of materials that cannot go into conventional recycling streams through Terracycle and Reworked recycling schemes, this includes items such as stationery, PPE (face masks), corks and crisp packets. Gumdrop bins for recycling chewing gum are located across the campuses which aim to reduce the littering of chewing gum. The gum collected is recycled and used to form our Gumtec coffee cups which students and staff are provided with and encouraged to use in place of disposable coffee cups.
The University is auditing single-use plastic usage across the organisation, after the publication of its Single Use Plastic Strategy in 2021 which outlined aims to reduce single-use plastic items at the University.
Reducing Waste – Coffee Cup Case Study
Since November 2016, the University has been working to reduce its disposable coffee cup use by implementing various schemes that help staff and students ditch disposables and make behavioural changes. A 25p surcharge, know as the latte levy was introduced on all hot and cold drinks sold in disposable cups in our café outlets. The environment team then began giving reusable cups to all staff and students so they could refill and reuse at outlets across campus. Our reusable cups are Gum-tec Americano mugs - made of 20% chewing gum (around 42 pieces per cup). The chewing gum we collect on campus is sent to Gumdrop to then be recycled into the Gum-tec mugs. A great example of closed-loop recycling in action! We also offer deposit cups for those who do not want a disposable and may have forgotten their own reusable cup. Since starting these initiatives we have saved over 161,600 disposable cups from being used on campus! An average of 33 drinks in 100 are now served in a reusable cup, up from just 3 in 100 in 2015/16.
Reuse at the University
Between April and June the University runs an end-of-year move-out project which supports students to donate unwanted items to a good cause when they move out of halls of residence. Students are provided with bags and stickers for clothing, bedding, homeware, kitchenware, books, and other items such a non-perishable food. Bags are collected weekly from halls, sorted, and donated to local charities around Winchester. Since starting Bag It Up in 2017 we have collected more than 6000kg worth of donations from students! You can read more about our Bag It Up scheme here.
The University also has an internal furniture reuse system whereby campus management can allocate used furniture to other areas of the University to make sure it does not go to waste. This sees the transfers of items across the University to make sure it is repurposed following the waste hierarchy.
We also encourage students and staff to refill and reuse on campus as much as possible, we currently have over 20 refill points on campus to top up water bottles. Points at have counters have recorded over 52,000 refills as of January 2022.
Single Use Plastic
Along with many Higher Education Institutions the University of Winchester is working to remove all unnecessary single-use plastics from catering, labs and office spaces. We have developed a Banishing Single Use Plastics Strategy which was approved by the Board of Governors in July 2021.
We are also signed up to Surfers Against Sewage Plastic Free Communities award as part of this commitment.
The single-use plastics and indeed plastics issue in general is complicated, it is not as simple to label plastic as ‘bad’. Rather it is our over consumption, throwaway culture, lack of sustainable disposal routes amongst other things that have led to a major plastic pollution problem. Many single-use items are used on average for a few minutes however their decomposition will take hundreds of years.
Our Single Use Plastic Plan
- Identify- auditing our campus to identify where and how single use plastics are used.
- Avoid- our first choice is removing the single-use plastic all together if it is unnecessary.
- Substitution- looking at more sustainable alternatives to single-use plastics with a focus on reusable and recyclable alternatives.
- Recycling- ensuring we have a sustainable and most appropriate waste management system in place for the single-use plastics we cannot eliminate.
To help develop our commitment to removing as much unnecessary plastic from our campus, in November 2021 we began our journey to becoming a Plastic Free University. So far we have held two litter picking events and signed up a number of ally’s across the University. As well as identifying plastics that have been removed or can be removed from our operations. If you would like to help us with this opportunity or keep up to date with its progress then follow us on our Twitter and Instagram.