Lancaster launches annual ‘#DontDitchIt’ campaign by unveiling mound of rubbish

12 June 2018 15:47
The Green Lancaster team with Mark Davies from Lancaster City Council (far right) pictured alongside an upturned bin and a variety of household goods and food that can be recycled
The Green Lancaster team pictured with Darren Axe and Mark Davies from Lancaster City Council (far right) in Alexandra Square

A rubbish skip was emptied in the centre of Lancaster University’s campus today to raise awareness of its ‘Don’t ditch it, donate it’ campaign.

Designed to re-use students’ goods and support worthwhile causes, the university initiative prevents unnecessary ’waste’ ending up in landfill by helping students donate hundreds of tonnes of food and household items to charities - both home and abroad.

The scheme, now in its ninth year, runs at the end of each academic year when students clear their rooms and travel home – but can’t take everything with them. Student staff on the Green Lancaster team set up a dedicated area on campus to sort items for re-use and facilitate sizeable donations to charities.

Darren Axe Project Coordinator of Green Lancaster said: “During the eight years that this project has been running, we have seen some pretty amazing results. Forty-one charities have benefited from 180 tonnes worth of donations from students on our campus. In 2017 alone, 16.7 tonnes of the donations went to Preston based International Aid.

“Year on year this initiative gets a better response, re-directing perfectly good clothes, household items and food to those who need them, while encouraging and embedding the sort of circular economy and sustainable behaviours we want to see right across our city.”

In another step to reduce waste and promote sustainable living, Lancaster University recently launched a new coffee cup scheme on campus to reduce single-use coffee cups.

One thousand reusable bamboo cups were delivered to campus last week, available for staff, students and visitors to buy or rent at a one off cost of £5.95. These can be used anywhere on campus and can be washed, filled and returned in any university-owned cafe or bar – saving 20 pence on the cost of a hot drink.

Peter Welling, Lancaster University Retail Services Manager, said: “Our new ‘#DontDitchIt Cup4life’ pilot scheme has been designed to make it as easy as possible for people on campus to avoid single use cups - without taking away any of the convenience they offer. Users don’t have to carry the same cup around with them if they’d prefer not to. We have designed a new logistics service to wash and transport the cups between university-owned cafes and bars so there will be a constant supply.

“The cups can be handed in in exchange for a token – which can be used to get another reusable cup next time a hot drink is bought. Eight coffee cup recycling bins have also been installed around the grounds so we hope that our new scheme will encourage people to stop and think before they throw things away.”

The Chief Environment Officer for Lancaster City Council, Mark Davies, represented the city council at today’s launch. Lancaster University joined forces with Lancaster City Council and local businesses last year to try and tackle the problem of single-use plastics and coffee cups, creating an action plan to tackle the growing problem of the city’s waste.

Coun Brendan Hughes, the city council’s Cabinet member with responsibility for Environmental Services, said: “With more than 17,000 students and staff on Lancaster University’s campus, it makes up a significant proportion of the city’s community. It also provides the council with access to the latest research and access to the local business community who want support to make their businesses more sustainable - through programmes like the Low Carbon Innovation Forum. By working together, we are coming up with joint solutions to the global problems that are affecting us locally.

“The pilot schemes running at the university will hopefully put a significant dent in the region’s waste problem, but just as importantly, provide feedback to us in the hope that tried and tested solutions can be applied elsewhere in the city.”

Already, Lancaster University staff and participants of the Low Carbon Innovation Forum have helped the Council take action. On hearing their ideas of how the issue could be tackled collectively as a city, the Council approved £30,000 of investment. Work is underway to initially install three drinking water fountains in Williamson Park, Happy Mount Park in Morecambe and in Carnforth, with plan to install more in Lancaster and Morecambe centres in the future.

Helen Wilkinson runs the Low Carbon Innovation Forum at Lancaster University Management School (LUMS). She said: “It is great to see momentum building and proposals being turned into action to tackle this serious issue. This is a real demonstration of the impact LUMS can have in building communities of small and medium sized businesses who can work hand-in-hand with larger organisations to drive impact and facilitate change.

“The creation of trusted peer networks as part of the Low Carbon Innovation Forum enables the group to quickly bond, tackle a problem and devise a solution - using the new tools and techniques learned as part of the programme.”

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