November 07, 2023

Tips for first class recycling

Schools, colleges and universities are under increasing pressure to implement and demonstrate sustainable practices – 87% of students say that their university should take sustainability seriously. (1)

But it’s not just a case of saying their universities should be doing more: over three quarters of prospective students say ‘clear strategies to reduce environmental impact, promote sustainable development and reduce waste’ are actually an influencing factor in the college or university they apply for in the first place.2

With large volumes of waste to handle and transport, multiple different types of recyclable waste to collect and all-important budgets to control, how can today’s education leaders come top of the class when it comes to choosing recycling systems?

Making it easy to recycle

As pioneers of commercial recycling, many education facilities are already separating waste at source through a multi-stream recycling programme - a must for hitting recycling targets and reducing waste management costs. But what should you look for when choosing your bins?

Modular systems that are easy to install will give you the flexibility you need to put the right containers in the right places, whether it’s paper recycling in your office spaces or cans, bottles and compostable waste in your food halls.

Once your containers are in place, you need to make sure it’s easy for people to use them. Choose bins with coloured and clear signage to minimise the risk of costly cross-contamination - take a look at our Slim Jim ® Recycling Stations.

It’s also important to engage staff and students in good recycling practice to make sure they know what can be recycled and where, and ensure they know how to do their bit to make their learning facility a greener place – try team briefing sessions and reminder posters to keep recycling front-of-mind.


Handling large volumes

With multiple buildings spanning a large footprint, education facilities handle large volumes of waste in some tough environments. For this, you need waste containers that can stand up to the challenge. Look for long-lasting bins with long warranties – such as our BRUTE® range - that give you the peace of mind you need.

Transporting large volumes of waste between buildings and to central collection points can also be a challenge. Our Wheeled BRUTE® comes with the famed durability of the BRUTE® container, but is made to move. With an ergonomic design that makes transporting waste five times easier, the container also helps protect maintenance workers from injury through promoting good posture and design features that take the strain out.


A lesson in food waste

One important waste stream too often overlooked, even though it’s believed to contribute 8-10% of global greenhouse gas emissions, is food waste.3 In 2021/22, the University of Manchester collected 35 tonnes of food waste from across its campus (including halls of residence) 4, while figures from WRAP show annual food waste figures as high as 55.4 tonnes for primary schools and 24.9 tonnes for secondary schools5. It’s clear to see the difference introducing a food waste recycling stream could make for your sustainability goals.

In canteens and kitchens where food waste volumes are high, but space is at a premium, recycling stations with a small footprint are a must. Take a look at our Slim Jim ® Step On Containers – with a slim design these containers have increased pedal clearance for easy foot access, making hands-free waste disposal easier, while the tight-fitting lid is perfect for controlling odours from food waste. Made from premium quality materials, these durable containers come with a five-year warranty for added peace of mind.

And for your student and staff areas, it’s easy to add a food waste recycling stream into your existing systems. Whether it’s the modular design of the Slim Jim ® Recycling Stations allowing you to easily add a further stream, or individual Slim Jim Vented or Step On containers units you’re adding into the mix, it’s easy to incorporate food waste recycling while keeping a uniform approach, regardless of what’s in place today.


Keele University making the grade

To support its aims of achieving net zero carbon by 2030, we worked with Keele University to implement an efficient and cost-effective recycling system that struck the fine balance between functionality and aesthetics with modular waste units that helped to achieve the aims of the university’s multi-stream recycling scheme.

Read more about the partnership here.


Start your journey to better recycling

To book a free on-site waste and recycling audit with one our experts, get in touch with our team here.

You can also use our free 90-second online audit tool to find your indicative cost and waste savings here.



1 NUS research

2 Source: Shakespeare Martineau

3 United Nations Environment Programme (2021) Food Waste Index Report 2021 and FAO (2011) Global Food Losses and Food Waste. Extent, Causes and Prevention.

4 University of Manchester


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