Recycling rate on campus triples in a year

18 Nov 2019

UQ’s Sustainability Team has completed the annual audit of general and co-mingled recycling wheelie bins from UQ St Lucia buildings. This year, the audit focused on buildings where under-desk bins were removed during 2018/19 and replaced with central waste and recycling stations and desk-top mini bins.   

Results from the audit of 68 bins show that the recycling rate has almost tripled, from 10 per cent in 2018 to 27 per cent in 2019.

When the Office Recycling Program started in 2018, it was determined that around 30% of UQ’s landfill waste could be recycled. The small act of replacing these bins with central waste and recycling stations would enable:

  • increased recycling rates and reduced waste going to landfill
  • increased individual responsibility for waste created
  • saved 500,000 plastic bin liners every year
  • reduced cleaning and waste disposal costs.

Thanks to the dedicated efforts of UQ staff, these changes are already having a significant effect. As well as tripling the recycling rates, the audit revealed that the recycling contamination rate has also reduced.  

However, the graphs below show that with a little tweaking, we could achieve even greater results on campus.

Pie graphs showing improved recycling rates between 2018 and 2019

For example, by correctly sorted waste generated within buildings, UQ St Lucia could achieve a landfill diversion rate of 39 per cent, which is higher than the predicted target of 30 per cent when the program was first introduced.

And if single-use plastic food service-ware within St Lucia’s food outlets was converted to compostable service-ware, and additional recycling streams such as soft plastic recycling and organics streams were added to buildings, a diversion rate of 84 per cent is theoretically achievable.

The UQ Sustainability team would like to acknowledge efforts of the P&F Cleaning team for their on-the-ground work rolling out the under-desk removal initiative, which will continue into other buildings in 2020.

The UQ Sustainability team encourages UQ staff to keep up the great work and we will continue to develop initiatives to move UQ St Lucia towards that theoretical 84 per cent waste diversion rate.