Posted on Wed 12 Feb 2014 at 12:30 by Rachel Purdon
On a cold winter afternoon in the middle of January I ventured to Bishops Cleeve to visit The Grundons recycling site.
The purpose of the visit was to get an insight into what happens to University waste after it leaves our sites and to see if our own current behaviors were effecting the recycling potential of our materials.
Grundon is the largest privately owned waste management company In the United Kingdom, they take anything from recycling of household waste to hazardous materials.
Whilst there, one message came across very clearly every action taken by the company was made with one clear goal to divert the waste from landfill.
As a University we produce lots of waste every year, various types of waste are input into our compactor and the waste is bundled into units so they can then be collected and taken to the Grundon site. Here the units have to be separated again and sorted into like materials. The sorting takes place both by machines and workers using a transport system of JCB’s and conveyor belts. Once these items have been repacked into units of a single material they then get transported off sites to companies and business who can recycle the materials.
Food waste has to go to landfill and the gases it produces in its breakdown are used to power the site and if possible it is used to create compost and fertilizer.
On the whole I was very Impressed with the Grundon site we have the added benefit of it being local, reducing our carbon footprint as we don’t have to transport it long distances.
However we as a University have to think about what we do with our waste. We should reinforce the behaviour of using the correct bins from refectory and bar staff to those in halls.
If we can do this then we can package more complete units that don’t require sorting. The sorting process relies on petrol motors and electric conveyor belt so we really have to be conscious about using the right bins so we can save energy.
However If I could leave all students and refectory/ bar with one clear goal to achieve that would be to think about food waste. As I have stated earlier on the whole food waste is sent to land fill. A small amount of food waste can contaminate a whole unit of possible recyclable material and stop the materials it contains being recycled. If possible food waste should be kept separate from other waste and definitely kept individual form recyclable materials.
We are blessed as a University to have fantastic improving sustainability culture if everyone shares the same collective attitudes we can all make our University environment a better place.