Send less to landfill with UQ's new station

3 December 2020

Staff and students can now drop off their old batteries, laptops, devices, toothbrushes, DVDs, plastic bags and more for recycling anytime at UQ’s new station, which opened in October thanks to a bright idea from UQ Sustainability’s waste team.

Among the project contributors was UQ Sustainability intern, Andy Lee. Andy helped put together the initial project proposal and gained invaluable experience implementing initiatives in a large organisation.

“Through the reuse and recycling station, UQ is trying to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill.

“The focus of the project is to create a central recycling centre that consolidates common objects that are not collected as part of household recycling,” Andy says.

UQ Environment and Sustainability Program Officer, Christine McCallum, says she and her team members would often hear anecdotally from peers who had trouble getting rid of particular items.

“Because of my job, people would ask me ‘I have 20 old batteries sitting around in a drawer at home. What do I do with them?’,” Christine says.

“So, we started thinking about ways we could help people to recycle more of their waste here on campus.

“Andy identified key recycling streams and stakeholders for a new recycling hub, and undertook a feasibility analysis on the proposal.

“He developed marketing strategies to maximise student and staff engagement, and completed a cost-benefit analysis to determine if the recycling hub would stack up financially, as well as environmentally.

“I’m pleased to say, it did.”

Andy also analysed potential locations and construction materials for the station.

The foyer of the Kingham Room (Building 21C) was eventually selected, and Laminex was chosen to build the station.

“It was amazing to interact with a lot of interesting people during this project,” Andy says. “And to see what it takes, behind the scenes, to bring a new idea to fruition was very rewarding.”

Reducing waste permanently

Of course, reusing and recycling should just be one part of your personal strategy to reduce landfill, Christine says. The best way to minimise waste is to try not to create it in the first place.

Andy says the project really opened his eyes to the realities of our day-to-day waste in Australia.

“There’s no such thing as ‘throwing something away’,” says Andy.

“When we throw anything out, it has to go somewhere. You can be part of the solution.”

Having just completed his fourth year of study in a dual degree Bachelor of Business Management and Bachelor of Science (Physics), Andy is brimming with more ideas for the future.

“There are so many different areas where we can potentially innovate and find solutions that benefit people and benefit the environment,” he says.

“That way we’re helping everybody to achieve the most sustainable outcomes over the long term.”