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An infographic summarising the University of Birmingham's single-use plastic reduction activities.
What we're doing about plastic waste (link to infographic transcript in 'Notes for Editors')

Students and staff at the University of Birmingham have launched a campaign to drastically reduce the use of plastics on campus.

The move will have an impact on catering, accommodation, building developments and more on the campus, which serves more than 30,000 students and 8,000 staff.

Director of Estates Trevor Payne said: “We are passionate about our role in caring for the environment and I am very proud of the work we have done to date to reduce single-use plastic on campus. We still have lots of work to do here, which is why today we are working with staff and students alike to make progress.”

Economics student Harriet Noy said: “I’m excited to see the changes the University is making to achieve a more sustainable campus. I think the more students we get on board, the easier it will be to achieve our plastic reduction goal.”

Moves have already been made to reduce plastic waste in areas across the institution.

Day nurseries, provided by the University for staff and student use, and the wider community:

  • The newest University day nursery, The Maples, does not use wet wipes (a typical wet wipe contains 84% plastic). That means 24,000 fewer wipes disposed of every year.
  • The Maples also opts not to use single-use plastic aprons for serving food, using alternatives, preventing the disposal of 16,500 aprons each year.


  • The catering team are encouraging students and staff to use re-usable cups, rather than paper ones, putting 15,000 eco cups into circulation. There are discounts for those buying their coffee in their own cup.
  • We are distributing 5,000 reusable water bottles made from sugar cane to new students to mark the beginning of term
  • Where disposable cutlery is used, it is biodegradable.
  • All plastic straws have been replaced with paper ones in campus outlets.
  • Plastic glasses have been withdrawn from all campus bars.


  • A mixed plastic recycling scheme is being rolled out across laboratories
  • The University is trialling an innovative process for laboratory single-use plastic gloves, aimed at diverting these from landfill to either be recycled into park benches and fence panels, or to create energy from incineration.

Sport & Fitness:

  • Encouraging members to use re-usable pool shoes, like flip flops, rather than using single use plastic shoe covers.
  • Encouraging members to use re-usable water bottles, rather than disposable ones.

This is just the beginning, with a major audit of all major building developments on campus taking place, to see where plastic can be reduced in the construction process.

In addition, students in University halls of residence have pitted themselves against other UK universities in a recycling competition run by the NUS and Coca-Cola.

For more information, please contact Head of Communications and Engagement (Infrastructure) Sally Brooks on +44 (0)121 414 3984.

The University is committed to taking action on some the most pressing questions facing our generation and the next, including those faced by our environment, through Birmingham In Action. Supported by philanthropy, this research in to plastics and carbon emissions forms a central part of this ambitious new fundraising and volunteering campaign