The University of Queensland has stopped more than 800,000 plastic items from going to landfill in the past eight months through an initiative that targets single-use plastic on campus.
The UQ Unwrapped initiative, a first for an Australian university, is reducing the University’s ‘plastic footprint’ by encouraging UQ retailers, events and markets to adopt reusable or compostable alternatives.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Bronwyn Harch said as a university committed to sustainability leadership, UQ was well-placed to adopt initiatives like this one.
“UQ Unwrapped brings the University community together to act on the issue of single-use plastic consumption through practical initiatives and an action-based membership model,” Professor Harch said.
“Reducing plastic use complements the University’s exciting research currently being undertaken into new forms of biodegradable plastics.
“The initiative currently has 21 members, three plastic free champions and 13 certified UQ events.
“Not only have they reduced single plastic-use, they have also collected 4.5 tonnes of organic waste from compostable food ware to ensure valuable organic matter is recaptured and returned to the food chain through farmland application.
“I encourage everyone to join the growing number of people taking the issue of single-use plastics seriously.”
UQ Unwrapped includes the roll-out of Green Caffeen - another Australian university first - that allows registered users to swap and go coffee cups from participating outlets.
Drink container refund bins have also been installed around the St Lucia campus with the money generated being allocated to the Student Green Fund.
Professor Harch said that UQ Sustainability should be congratulated for its leadership and ingenuity.
“Along with the obvious schemes and initiatives rolling out at UQ, behind the scenes under-desk office bins are being removed.”
“By removing desk bins, we will increase recycling rates while saving more than 500,000 plastic bin liners every year.
The side-effect of this program has seen an increase in physical activity among UQ personnel.
Sustainability website to see how easy it is to reduce single use and make a lasting impact on our world’s future.
Media and enquiries: UQ Sustainability, Christine McCallum, c.mccallum [at] pf.uq.edu (p) au , +61 7 3365 7580.