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October 16, 2017 | by  | in News |
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Waste not, want not

In September 2016 a three day waste audit was conducted by VUW staff and students.

The audit took place at Kelburn, Te Aro, and Pipitea campuses, with the aim of identifying where the university could make improvements in its waste management system.

Following the release of the results of the audit in September 2017, VUWSA Wellbeing and Sustainability Officer Beth Paterson told Salient that 80% of the waste on campus could be diverted from landfill. Of this, 20% was food waste, 15% paper towels, and 10% plastics.

In response to the audit, VUW established an Environmental Action Plan to divert waste from landfills. Actions towards this include the streamlining the waste management process, consistent colour-coding and clear signage of bins, the introduction of compost bins in kitchenettes, and better communications with staff and students on how to use the bins.

These changes will be implemented first in Rutherford House, and if successful will “hopefully” be put in place on the other campuses.

At the time of print, new bins had been instituted at Rutherford House, although the other measures had not yet been adopted.

VUW has previously released Environmental Action Plans setting out VUW’s sustainability strategies to the public in 2006 and 2013 — though it is unclear whether there has been any improvement in VUW practices. The 2013 plan discussed how 60% of VUW’s waste could be diverted from landfill, in comparison to the results of the 2016 audit which found that 80% of waste could be diverted from landfill.

Despite this, the Assistant Vice-Chancellor Sustainability Marjan van den Belt told Salient “my goal is for the Sustainability Office to produce an environmental report as part of the sustainability report every year.”

The 2016 Sustainability Report was released in October 2017, stating that, “reporting is an important mechanism for providing transparency, essential in taking on a leading role.”

“This report reflects a transition from environmental reporting reflecting past performance to sustainability reporting oriented toward forward-looking aspirations. This also signals that the responsibility for sustainability sits with everybody and not just the Sustainability Office.”

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