The cost of disposing waste


To achieve being a sustainable institution, the University of Manchester considers waste management a key priority. The University has a Duty of Care and must comply with the Hazardous Waste Regulations in disposing of all waste to ensure our environment is protected and to ensure valuable resources are managed.1

Over the last year, the recycling rate has declined from 24.6% (as given by the EMS statistics 2007/2008)2 to 23.2%.3 To improve on this figure and move up the waste hierarchy to a zero waste university, efforts have to be put in place to work closely with relevant stakeholders and the university community to prevent and minimize waste in the first instance.

This waste strategy proposes a five year plan (2010 - 2015) which aims to recycle 50% of waste produced and cut back on the volume by weight of waste by 50%.

Due to increasing public awareness, the need to maintain a clean environment is of major concern to the University. Addressing waste management also helps in reducing issues associated with legislative compliance, economic factors, and environmental factors.

The University of Manchester endeavors to run a program that focuses on sustainable waste management, purchasing, transportation and utilities in a way that does not restrict future development and also reduces negative impacts on the environment.



Waste management is the handling, collection, transport, processing, recycling or disposal and monitoring of waste materials.4 Disposal of solid waste is of growing concern due to low land availability for landfills and the environmental impacts associated with waste disposal. Various government frameworks have been set in place to act as a check on individuals and the general public. The University of Manchester with a population of over 45,000 people (staff and students) produced approximately 4,800 tonnes of waste for 2008/2009 academic year of which 23.2% is either recycled or reused.


The proposed strategy will form a pathway to sustainable waste management ensuring efficient resource management, increased participation from relevant stakeholders and eventually lead to the prevention and minimization of waste for the University. This waste strategy will be based on the waste management hierarchy. To achieve this purpose, a SMART[1] approach will be employed.

The factors outlined below will provide the following benefits to the University. These will be explained further down in the report.

  • Legislative compliance
  • Improvements to reputation and image
  • Cost minimisation
  • Enhanced energy management measures

This waste strategy proposes a five year plan (2010 - 2015) to increase the amount of recycled waste to 50% and reduce the volume by weight of waste by 50% based on the waste statistics of 2008/2009.


Recycling symbol.svgWaste management is an expensive scheme mainly because of human factors and location of such a project. The proposed scheme will be laden with a lot of cost and effort will have to be made to adopt less expensive options as long as they are compatible with maintaining sound environmental practices. With this in mind, the ideal pathway will be that of waste minimisation resorting to the 3 Rs concept - Recycling, Reusing and Reduction. 14

These options are examined with a view of applying them to solving the waste disposal troubles of the University:

  • Reduction - This strategy aims at public participation and partnership with all staff, students and relevant stakeholders to create a hierarchy of waste management where simply reducing the amounts of waste produced by these individuals should be a priority.
  • Reuse - Areas of possible reuse will be highlighted throughout this report to ensure awareness of substitution practices is imbibed throughout the institution.
  • Recycle - Many of the items utilized by the residents and staff will have some degree of recyclability. These include aluminum materials, paper, glass and plastics. Composting food waste is another example where useful products can be obtained for landscaping activities like gardening, soil conditioning.


Legislative compliance: The two most important pieces of legislation relating to waste that the University needs to be aware of are6:

  • Duty Of Care
  • The Hazardous Waste Regulations

Employing a proactive approach will ensure that the University minimises the possibility of litigation and can anticipate requirements of new legislation.11 Monitoring systems and regular audits should be set in place to enable the University meet up with its legal requirements.

Improvements to reputation and image: To become one of the top environmentally focused Universities, good waste management is a key component. The University was nominated for the National Recycling Awards2 in 2009 and won the Silver Award in the Manchester Environmental Business Pledge6. To maintain this standard, yearly improvement will be required in this sector.

Cost minimisation: A good waste management strategy must be environmentally, economically and socially viable. The current landfill tax is 48/tonne for 2010/11 against 40/tonne the previous year.7 As a result of this, waste prevention and minimisation is a suitable avenue to save financial resources. Since most of the wastes produced have market value, an agreement can be sought between the University and recyclers to get a rebate in recycling costs.


The strategy will be grouped into three phases; the short term, medium term and long term plans.

Short term plan (2010 - 2012): To raise awareness on waste minimisation and campaigns to help initiate responsible purchasing and separation of recyclable waste. Investment in collection and recycling infrastructure will be a key part of the University's waste management strategy engaging both staffs and students in the process. The University will partner with waste and resource management companies to help in handling waste produced.

Long term plan (2012 - 2015): This part of the strategy will increase efforts in recycling and reuse but will focus on waste minimisation. The use of onsite treatment facilities will be researched to help manage the waste from the main campus and halls of residence. Aim for Zero waste to landfill, concentrating on waste prevention and minimisation.




The University's core waste management practice is waste recycling. So far, this has not been entirely efficient. Waste is currently managed at the following locations:

  • Main campus
  • Halls of residence (run by the school)
  • Construction waste
  • Manchester museum
  • Whitworth art gallery
  • Students union

The University's environmental policy aims at sustainable waste management practices and the principles of "reduce, re-use and recycle".

This strategy does not include waste arising from Turner Dental School, Core Technology Facility/Incubator building and Manchester Science Park.

The table blow details the university's waste information for 1st August 2008 - 31st July 2009 by waste type.3



  • Increase recycling and participation
  • Investment in facilities to make it easy for staff and students to participate in the program
  • Raising awareness to introduce waste minimisation and promote recycling program

The signing of a contract with one of the local waste management companies12 will be the first phase of the program. One recommendation is VIRIDOR. This is a waste and resource management company in Manchester that specialises in gathering and sorting waste items, recovery of anything that can be recycled, treat wastes to extract any value and safely dispose of anything that is left over.5 The aim of this partnership is to have a 5% yearly increase of recycled waste. Contract will be renewed upon performance.


To achieve our short term goals, the following key areas will be targeted for improvement.

  • Main campus
  • Halls of residence (run by the school)
  • Manchester museum
  • Whitworth art gallery
  • Students union

Recycle systems will be spread across the University to ensure public participation and achieve set targets. The simplicity of this system is important. Rather than having separate bins for each form of waste, a system with mixed collection items will be employed. This will be classified as 'Mixed Recyclables' i.e. Mixed papers (Coloured papers, Leaflets, Magazines, Newspapers, and Envelopes), Card board boxes, Plastics (films and bottles), Food and drink cans. This will make it easier for staff and students to recycle and participate. Also, for easy identification, bins with varying colours will be used for this scheme.

  • Mixed recyclables: As defined above (Blue bin)
  • Food waste: Food waste and biodegradable packaging (Brown bin)
  • Office paper: White high-grade paper (White bin)
  • Glass bottles: Green bin
  • General waste: Waste that does not fall into any of the above listed categories. This is waste to landfill which will be reduced over time (Black bin)

Constant monitoring and feedback from the Environmental team will boost the efficiency of the strategy, noting high generation areas and initiating ways of improvement.

For the purpose of this strategy, the main campus will refer to the following locations:

  • Offices: The waste produced from this location will be classed as Mixed recyclables (blue bin), Office paper (white bin) and General waste (black bin)
  • Restaurants and bars run by the University: This location produces a lot of mixed recyclables, general waste and food waste (brown bin)
  • Outdoor locations: Mainly specially streets and walkways around the school. For easy participation, a two-bin system will be adopted (Mixed recyclables and general waste)
  • The Manchester museum, Whitworth art gallery and the Students union will work on the same type of bin system since they produce relatively the same form of waste.

  • Mixed recyclables
  • Food waste
  • General waste
  • The Halls of residence will be a key area of focus with the increasing population of students at the University. These locations will operate a 3-bin system.

  • Mixed recyclables
  • Glass waste
  • General waste

As stated earlier, the University needs to ensure legal compliance in the handling of its waste. For this to be achieved, a good record of how the waste from the University is managed, right from noting the amount of waste generated, the collection of the waste and the various routes the waste will follow. It is essential that this is carried out throughout the institution especially in the handling of hazardous waste materials. The University also has to be able to show that the site receiving the waste has proper treatment and disposal permission.


Hazardous waste can be paints, chemicals and certain types of electrical equipment.

Electrical waste: The Waste Electrical and Electronic Waste Regulation (2006) ensure that each organization is responsible for the safe disposal of such waste. To reduce the amount of Electrical and Electronic waste going to landfill, recycle and reuse options will be adopted.8

Organic waste: Enquiries and feasibility studies will be carried out on the use of onsite technology systems for this type of waste. This will be further employed in the halls of residence to produce compost that can be used for landscaping.

Furniture: Reuse of furniture around the University and further donations to charity will be encouraged.

Junk mail: A lot of junk mail is usually circulated around the school to pass on some form of information. This usually generates a lot of waste to be handled and can be avoided by publishing such information electronically. The students union will be given a fair education on the use of electronic mailings to avoid he high generation of junk mail from this sector.


Raising awareness on waste minimisation and recycling is important for the success of this strategy. Various forms of awareness will be used to reach out to the general public.

  • Labeling: All recycling facilities will be properly labeled to help inform staff and students on the appropriate facility for each type of waste.
  • Posters and Leaflets: This will help convey the message of the entire strategy in a simplistic form. Posters and leaflets will be continually renewed to include changes and improvements to the strategy.
  • Short term delivery groups: These will form part of a vital part of the Environmental team. Groups such as the data and implementation team, waste infrastructure task force can help in ensuring that day-to-day monitoring, recording and review of information is properly handled.
  • Forums: Awareness campaigns will be organized for both staff and students to help in waste prevention, hazardous waste and proper communication.
  • News: Regular waste management news should be sent out to all staff and students.
  • At the end of this time frame, if the whole strategy is adhered to, it will save


  • Continuance with recycling and ways to improve facilities and participation
  • Initiate and focus on waste minimisation
  • Investigate and possibly adopt onsite technology systems

  • Campaigns: New campaigns will be introduced to communicate the importance of waste minimisation. This will be achieved through e-flyers, adverts on school computers and organizing workshops and seminars for various target groups. These forums will help educate and enlighten staff and students on reduction in excess purchasing and promote selection of products that produce less waste.
  • Procurement: The University will ensure increase in the purchase of recycled goods and promote use of biodegradable products which can be composted onsite.
  • Supplier specification should be addressed to reduce the amount of packaging of products purchased by the University.

  • Long term delivery groups: Though stated as long term, some of these groups will stay only long enough to deliver their set objectives. Initiation of such teams will help in achieving waste management targets. Examples are: inter-departmental sustainable development groups, waste management groups and environmental policy groups.10
  • General waste bins: Gradual removal of general waste bins will be carried out across the University and replaced with recycling stations. This will enhance waste minimisation and might reduce waste production.
  • Onsite waste treatment technologies: As stated earlier, investigation and enquiry will be made into the acquiring and usage of onsite treatment technology like anaerobic digestion, in-vessel composting, gasification and Pyrolysis. All these can be used at the University but further research and issues about cost have to be considered.
  • Zero waste: This will be an ambitious plan for a 5-year strategy but will be the main focus after years of research and review of the waste management strategy.

    Monitoring the performance of the activities outlined in this report will be crucial to the success of the strategy. Strategies are theoretical but to get to understand the practical nature of the task, the relationship between the precise performance that can be expected from the planned initiatives and the effects of interactions between them has to be understood. 13

    The key areas that should be monitored at least quarterly are:

  • Recycling rate
  • Tonnage of all classes of waste produced and collected
  • Procurement issues
  • Infrastructure development


  1. Waste and Recycling [Online]/ auth. Manchester The University of.- 2006.- April 21, 2010.-
  2. Waste Legislation [Online]/ auth. Manchester The University of.- 2006.- April 21, 2010.-
  3. Waste Statistics [Online]/ auth. Manchester The University of.- 2009.- April 21, 2010.-
  4. Waste Management [Online]/ auth. Wikipedia.- Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.,, April 20, 2010.- April 21, 2010.-
  5. About Us [Online]/ auth. Viridor.- April 21, 2010.-
  6. University Campus [Online]/ auth. Manchester The University of.- 2006.- April 21, 2010.-
  7. Environmental Code of Practice - The cost of disposing waste [Online]/ auth. BMF.- British Marine Federation, 2010.- April 21, 2010.- code of practice/key issues solutions/waste management/cost of waste disposal.aspx.
  8. Environmental guidance for your business [Online]/ auth. NetRegs.- NetRegs, April 21, 2010.- April 21, 2010.-
  9. Recycle at work [Online]/ auth. WRAP.- Waste and Resources Action Programme, 2010.- April 21, 2010.- 3089 RAW Info SheetOffices V09.61f1119b.5319.pdf.
  10. Index [Online]/ auth. Environment Department of.- 2010.- April 21, 2010.-
  11. Waste Management [Online]/ auth. Blue The Green.- 2010.- April 21, 2010.- htp://
  12. Engineering Department [Online]/ auth. Greenville City of.- 2007.- April 21, 2010.- Department.html.
  13. Core Strategy: Leicestershire Municipal Waste Management Strategy 2006 [Online]/ auth. LWMP.- May 2006.- May 6, 2010.-
  14. Solid Waste Management [Online]/ auth. DOE.- Department of Environment.- May 6, 2010.-

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