University goes green with ban on single use plastics

Operations manager Karen Wilton with staff from CU London's on-site cafe. Picture: CU London

Operations manager Karen Wilton with staff from CU London's on-site cafe. Picture: CU London - Credit: CU London

A Dagenham university is believed to be the first in the country to stop using single use plastics on its campus.

CU London, based in the former Civic Centre, has taken steps to help the environment by removing plastic packaging from sale and replacing items such as takeaway cups with biodegradable or reusable alternatives.

Last year, a number of universities across the country announced their intention to become plastic-free - but CU London claims to be the first to actually achieve it.

Operations manager Karen Wilton explained: “It won’t be long before this is the norm across the country, but we wanted to push ahead, a crucial factor is engaging, educating and working collaboratively with staff and students, so that they understand and support the changes we are making.

“We wanted to take a really proactive approach to this because as a relatively new university site, we need to be at the cutting edge.”

The university, part of the Coventry University Group, opened in September 2017.

In its quest to go green, a team analysed everything from water bottles and crisp packets sold at the on-site cafe to the marketing materials used in a bid to identify opportunities to remove single use plastics.

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Karen continued: “A lot of time and effort has gone into this, there are so many things you take for granted at a site that require single-use plastic.

“We have had to really take a step back and identify where we can have the biggest impact.

“We have built relationships with local businesses to help with our recycling processes and thought very carefully about how to keep our carbon footprint as small as possible.

“We will really be promoting this alongside our students and student ambassadors, hopefully prompting changes we can all make beyond the site as well.”

CU London’s associate pro-vice-chancellor, Andy Ginn, added: “I am incredibly proud that we have taken this step so soon into our journey.

“It has taken a lot of work from a wide range of staff across a number of departments and the attention to detail has been incredible.”