On this page, you’ll be able to find out what we’re doing as an organisation to improve the impact we’re having on the environment both as an organisation, and through the work that we’re doing.
Although we do what we can to reduce our impact on the environment, we’re always open to suggestions from students about strategies or items to implement. If you’d like to make a suggestion, please get in touch.
Our Policy Framework
In July we secured funding for an awareness campaign to use lifts rather than stairs which has now been implemented across all University campuses. In August, we switched to Starbucks proud to serve Fairtrade coffee and have dramatically increased the amount of Fairtrade coffee sold within our commercial outlets. In September, we closed one of our buildings with the highest energy output which has resulted in a dramatic decrease in energy assumption. In October, we implemented totally digital financial, engagement and human resources platforms dramatically reducing the amount of paper used within the organisation. In December , we implemented a new digital engagement strategy which saw the moving away from printed marketing and communications.
In January, following market research, we discovered that 110,000 coffee cups on campus were not being recycled on an annual basis and have successfully campaigned for coffee cup recycling to be introduced in September 2017. In February, following the collection and representation of students views we secured recycling awareness road shows, better labelling of recycling bins and an increase in the number of recycling bins. In April, we secured agreement form the University to ensure coffee grinds will now be collected separately from September 2017. In June, we managed to maintain our Green Impact status under the new framework by achieving a 'Good' accreditation putting us just outside the top 50% of unions in the country. In September, we attended the Fossil Fuel strategy day hosted by Bristol Fossil Free society and succesfully lobied the university to sign the People and Planet Fossil Fuel declaration. In November, we attended the NUS Sustainability Conference learning about strategies to implement in our organisation. We also took part in the University of Bedfordshire's climate change event. In December, we signed the NUS led pledge to dispose of plastic straws from our facilities.
In January, we took the step of removing plastic straws from the front of our bars, placing signage around highlighting the issues caused. Moving forwards, we have plenty of ideas that will get placed into action over the following year!
This year has been a year in which we've backed up the work that we've done in the past to continue our environmental awareness. Straws are stil out of our bars, something that we thought would be a tough decision to live with in the long run! We've also been working in areas such as fossil fuel divestment with People and Planet, as well as continuing our activity around coffee cup use on campus, so stay tuned for more updates on these in the near future!
How we are becoming more sustainable?
We have identified the following as the top five most problematic impacts on the environment that we are looking to address:
- The non-recycling of coffee cups. Launched during a campaign last year, our coffee cup bins have made a large impact into the estimated 110,000 coffee cups that were not being recycled in the past. Although we’re not currently able to track the number of cups that are being recycled, we are working hard to ensure that there is effective signage on how to use them. We’ve also implemented simple posters in our staff offices that explain how to recycle cups properly, even behind the scenes we’re trying to improve!
- The use of single use items. The media attention currently being provided to single use items is becoming more and more prevalent. This is an issue that Beds SU recognises, and we’ve established that items such as straws and plastic cups that regularly get used on our club nights are areas where we can improve. To take a proactive approach to this, Beds SU will be supporting the NUS-led ‘The Last Straw’ campaign.
- The level of mileage claimed within the organisation. This is something that was highlighted in last year’s Green Impact submission, and although during that submission we were not able to track, we have implemented a digital system that allows us to keep track of how we’re using mileage. This system will also allow us to establish trends over the course of weeks, months and years.
- The large volume of paper within the organisation. The large volume of paper is something that we’ve been actively trying to reduce for a while. By implementing strategies such as a primarily digital marketing strategy we’ve been able to significantly reduce the paper that we put into recycling. Our flyers and handouts are printed with a recyclable laminate, and we also use 100% recycled paper in our staff offices.
- The performance of the university in relation to on campus recycling. This is something that we established as a major issue by running a GOATTS survey last year. We’re in the process of designing materials that will promote what rubbish can be thrown away into what bins. We hope that this will address the issues and confusion that can often arise from the complications of recycling.
Our Green Market Research
How you can get involved