Universities with Recycling Programs?

May 04, 2021by Olivia - F&F

Australia has approximately 1.5 million students enrolled at University, with around 85% attending their chosen campus every day! With our growing plastic pollution problem, it’s essential that universities manage their waste sustainably and encourage better habits on campus. 

We’ve taken a look at some of Australia’s top universities and their recycling programs and eco initiatives — how does your university measure up?

University of Sydney Recycling University of Sydney Recycling

University of Sydney — Better Recycling, Less Waste

The University of Sydney's Better Recycling, Less Waste' program is aimed at increasing the rate of recycling from 69% to over 80%. This project involves the removal of individual desk bins and the installation of new waste and recycling stations in central locations throughout offices and teaching spaces. This campaign has been implemented at the Camperdown Campus and Darlington Campus, with further plans to introduce the initiative across other University of Sydney campuses.

Part of the 'Better Recycling, Less Waste' program is the coloured bin system. The three coloured bins — Yellow Bin (Recycling), Red Bin (Landfill Waste) Blue Bin (Paper Recycling), — are located all around the campus. The University of Sydney also has dedicated bins for E-Waste, construction waste and hazardous waste. Check out the University of Sydney’s Sustainability Strategy here.

UNSW Sydney RecyclingUNSW Sydney Recycling

UNSW Sydney — Return & Earn

UNSW Sydney is committed to "Closing the loop by minimising waste, improving resource efficiency and managing waste responsibly.” UNSW Sydney was the first educational institution in NSW to operate a Reverse Vending Machine (RVM) for refunds on recycled bottles and cans under the NSW Government's Return & Earn' scheme in 2018. UNSW Sydney has recycled more than 5 million containers, which is a huge achievement for the UNSW community! 

As part of the 'Return & Earn' program, you can find the Reverse Vending Machines in two different locations on campus. Most beverage containers with capacities between 150ml and 3L are eligible for a 10-cent refund, provided they are made from glass, plastic, aluminium, steel or liquid paperboard (cartons). Find all recycling facilities on the UNSW Sydney campus on their website — including Stationary Reuse Centres, Bulbs & Tubes Recycling, Mobile Phone Recycling, Battery Recycling, and more!

University of Melbourne RecyclingUniversity of Melbourne Recycling

University of Melbourne — Choose to Reuse Plate Program

The University of Melbourne has a standard recycling program in all campus locations. 

Plus, as part of the 'Choose to Reuse Plate Program', you can dispose of your leftover food scraps into one of the maroon food organics bins located at any of the dish drop off stations in Union House, Parkville campus! All food scraps collected in the organics bin are transformed into nutrient-rich compost. 

Overall, this program encourages students to grab their own plate/cutlery, purchase their food (cafeteria style), then scrape the excess food scraps on their plate into the organics bin — so the entire process is waste-free. We think this is a great initiative because it effectively tackles food waste and plastic waste!

Australian National University RecyclingAustralian National University Recycling

Australian National University (ANU) — ANUgreen

ANUgreen is the environmental management program at ANU. ANUgreen’s waste reduction and recycling program has been operating since 1999. In fact, it was the first sustainability initiative on campus! Since then, the program has expanded and now includes facilities to recycle office paper, cardboard, co-mingled waste, construction waste, garden waste and E-Waste.

In 2016/17, ANU introduced smart bin sensors in all of the recycling stations on the campus. These bin sensors allow the University to effectively manage garbage collection services by having bins emptied only when they reach a certain level of rubbish. Smart thinking!

University of Queensland Reuse & RecyclingUniversity of Queensland Reuse & Recycling

University of Queensland (UQ) — Reuse & Recycling Station + Green Caffeen Program

Look at this amazing recycling station! The University of Queensland partnered with the UQ Union Environment Collective to host a new recycling station for students and staff. This reuse & recycling station is for hard-to-recycle household items that can’t be recycled through your yellow-topped wheelie bin, including small E-Waste items, mobile phones, soft plastics — even eyeglasses!

UQ's Green Caffeen’ program is part of Australia’s first swap & go reusable coffee cup program! Through this program, students are able to buy a coffee in a Green Caffeen reusable cup and return it within 30 days. This is such an easy way for you to ditch the disposable cups and opt for a reusable option — especially if you forget your KeepCup!

Monash University — Ditch DisposablesMonash University — Ditch Disposables

Monash University — Ditch Disposables

Monash University is on a mission to remove disposable coffee cups, containers and all single-use plastics from its campuses, and they're asking all staff and students to get on board! As part of the 'Ditch the Disposables' initiative, Monash is encouraging its students to: 

  • BYO KeepCup mug or container to any of the on-campus retailers.
  • Dine-In enjoy coffee or lunch at one of our cafés (resulting in less plastic waste).
  • Borrow a reusable cup for your coffee. The BorrowCups initiative allows students to purchase their coffee in a BorrowCup and leave it in a specific BorrowCup bin — all the cups are washed and reused!
The University of Western Australia (UWA) — Recycling & Waste InitiativesThe University of Western Australia (UWA) — Recycling & Waste Initiatives

The University of Western Australia (UWA) — Recycling & Waste Initiatives

The University of Western Australia (UWA) is planning to be an energy-neutral campus by 2025! UWA is aiming to create a clean, green and sustainable campus by reducing waste generation by 10% by 2025, increasing diversion from landfill to 70% by 2025, and developing baseline measures and targets for a circular (zero waste) system.

In terms of recycling, UWA captures and recycles a range of materials including garden organics, comingled recycling (bottles, cans, etc.), cardboard, paper, e-waste, glass, batteries and metals.

University of Adelaide EcoversityUniversity of Adelaide Ecoversity

University of Adelaide — Ecoversity

The University of Adelaide has a standard recycling program through 'Ecoversity' — the University's sustainability engagement program. All Ecoversity activities, campaigns and events are geared towards developing a campus community that values and applies sustainable practices.

The University of Adelaide is working towards a plastic-free campus in 2021. For example, all food and beverage packaging on campus; coffee cups, coffee cup lids, straws, plates/bowls, cups, lids, hot and cold food containers such as chip containers, salad bowls, sandwich wedges and sushi containers — will need to be fully compostable! This will also extend to all campus events, functions, conferences. 

Since 2010, the Ecoversity program has facilitated many sustainable practices at the University of Adelaide, such as: reducing carbon emissions by 22%, installing 17 water refill stations, introducing a comprehensive recycling program for general and specialist items, installing 2,000+ recycling bins, and recycling 113 tonnes of e-waste. Amazing, right?


Are you starting university this year? Or, maybe you’re curious about what your university is doing for the environment? Whatever the case, we hope this blog was helpful — and we hope you learnt something new!

Check out some similar blogs on The Eco Hub:

Does Your Council Provide Rebates For Eco-Friendly Products?

Recycling 101 - What Can You Recycle?

Global Climate Change Education In Schools

More Articles

Why Choose Vegan Chocolate?
May 04, 2021by Olivia - F&F
Eco-Friendly Travel With Google Maps
May 05, 2021by Olivia - F&F