Sustainable Waste

The University aims to minimise the amount of waste sent to landfill. Click the links below to find out about what to do with your waste on campus and in the city.

Did you know the University recycled and composted 55% of its waste in 2016/17 with 0% sent to landfill!



Sustainable Waste

In college and on campus


Ask yourself this: Do you really need to buy it? Save unnecessary waste and save yourself money too!

Reducing the amount of waste you produce is the most important step – try not to buy items with lots of packaging, only buy what you need, and buy products you can keep using again and again instead of throwing them away!

Electrical waste (anything with a plug) needs to be disposed of correctly, separate from general waste, but only if it is broken beyond repair – please contact Estates Services Facilities Helpdesk for more advice. Phone: 01904 325555


Before you throw something in the bin, think whether you can use it for another purpose – take your own plastic carrier bags when you next go to the shops, use jam jars to store things in (or make more jam!), and use scrap paper to make notes or shopping lists on.

Look for the things you want on the Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) small ads forum, or even in charity shops or online second-hand sites, such as Freecycle, Gumtree or Preloved. If you’ve got something you don’t want anymore, sell it (or give it away) on second-hand websites etc.Got some old clothes you don’t want any more? There are British Heart Foundation clothes banks at each college to put unwanted clothes in – this helps with the recycling of clothes plus raises money for an important cause!

Only got one fork and a pan for your kitchen? YUSU have a sale of kitchen items (pans, plates, cutlery etc.) at the start of the autumn term called the Big Green Clean, so go stock up on things you forgot! Keep an eye here for upcoming information about this.


Recycling on campus is different to the rest of the city or your home town because the University pays a contractor to remove and treat or dispose of our waste. It is important to recycle as much as possible (after you’ve reduced and reused!), so we have a co-mingled recycling system, where nearly EVERYTHING can be recycled in just one container!

You should have four containers in your student kitchen – a bin for mixed recycling, a bag for glass, a bin for food waste and a bin for waste to go to landfill. Look out for similar containers around campus!

Mixed Recycling – almost everything can be recycled on campus! This includes:

1) Plastic – plastic bottles, crisp packets, sweet/cellophane wrappers

2) Card – all cardboard boxes (flattened), food packets, greeting cards, toilet/kitchen roll inserts. NOT polysyrene or Tetra Pak (i.e orange juice cartons)

3) Paper – office paper, catalogues, directories, envelopes, junk mail, magazines, newspapers, shredded paper, books

4) Tins/Cans – drinks cans, empty aerosol cans, food tins, ready meal containers, foil

NOT plastic bags (these can be recycled at many supermarkets!), cling film or used tissues/paper towels




Glass – all glass colours, including jars, bottles (but NOT Pyrex dishes etc. – these should go in the landfill bin).

Food waste – all food waste (including meat, bread, vegetable peelings and tea bags – NOT egg shells or packaging) must be disposed of in the food caddies in the student kitchens and bins around campus, NOT in recycling or general waste bins as it contaminates these waste streams. Clear bags can be used in the food waste caddies but NOT plastic shopping bags. This food waste goes to an anaerobic digester to be made into biogas for energy, and compost.

Landfill – the very last option – ONLY things that you can’t recycle 

In York - off campus


There are numerous charity shops across the city, including a few around the University and student areas, so go pick up some great bargains, or donate your unwanted items.

For a list of charity shops, check out the City of York Council's website.


Recycling and waste disposal in the rest of York is carried out by the council, and has different methods of recycling collection.

Three recycling boxes:

1) Glass, including wine/beer bottles, food jars, and empty perfume bottles. NOT light bulbs, broken glass, Pyrex dishes, windows or mirrors.

2) Paper and cardboard, including junk mail, envelopes, cereal boxes, newspaper/magazines. NOT Tetra Pak cartons, large/unflattened boxes or Padded envelopes.

3) Plastic bottles/cans, including drinks bottles, shampoo bottles, domestic cleaning bottles, drinks cans, food tins. NOT foam trays, food/foil takeaway trays, butter tubs, plant pots or yoghurt pots.

Two Bins:

Green Bin – garden waste only, including grass cuttings, leaves, hedge trimmings (you may only have a green bin if your house has a garden).

Grey bin – waste for landfill.

There are alternate weekly collections of kerbside recycling, garden waste and landfill waste – landfill bin one week then recycling boxes and green bin the next.

For more information on recycling in York, including your waste collection dates, check out the Recycling, rubbish and waste page.

Any kitchen scraps (vegetable peelings, fruit peel, tea bags etc.) can be composted – St Nicks Fields offer advice on composting so check out their website or get in touch (see section under Volunteering - Off Campus for contact info).

Anything not included in your weekly collections can be recycled of at the Council’s Hazel Court Household Waste Recycling Centre off James Street. Check the Council’s website for more info.

If you’re not sure what to do with a certain item of waste, visit the Recycle Now website, which has info on every type of waste you can possibly imagine!

There are also recycling locations across the city at supermarkets – check this website for locations of recycling banks.

End of Term or End of the Year

It’s really important that you dispose of your waste correctly when leaving your student house for the holidays or at the end of the year. This can then be taken to the council's Hazel Grove waste site free of charge.

Liase with your landlord to ensure waste is disposed of correctly and don't just dump it outside your house. You are legally responsible for ensuring this waste is disposed of correctly and could be legally prosecuted and fined if you don't!

Food waste

Food waste is a massive problem - we throw away 7 million tonnes of food and drink from our homes every year, the majority of which could have been eaten. It's costing us £12.5bn a year and is bad for the environment too. Find out how you can reduce the amount of food you waste and the environmental impact of your consumption by following the tips below!

Top Five Eat Greener Tips:

  1. Plan your meals for the week so that you only buy what you need, or try cooking with your housemates. Take it in turns to cook for the group - this saves money buying the food as you can buy it in bulk, and means that you don’t have to cook each day - win!
  2. Don’t leave food to go off - use up leftovers and food near its use by date with some of the easy-to-follow recipes from Love Food Hate Waste, saving you money and making something yummy too!
  3. Eating meat is more carbon-intensive than sticking to a vegetarian diet - why not try a meat-free day once a week? This could save 8kg of CO2 each week - the same amount of carbon dioxide produced driving 40 miles! Check out Meat Free Mondays and Part-Time Carnivore for more info.
  4. Try to eat as seasonally as possible - this saves the CO2 required to produce the food and transport it, as it can be locally-grown rather than from abroad. To find out what’s in season, check out Eat the Seasons for more info.
  5. Make sure your fridge is set to the right temperature - fridges should be below 5°C to make sure they can keep food fresh for as long as possible.

Not sure what to do with any food waste you do have? Check out the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle pages for advice.