Coronavirus information and guidance

Circular economy

The University is moving from a linear to a circular waste management. This means that we are reducing what we buy, reusing what we have, and recycling what we can no longer use. Adopting a circular waste economy aligns with the Scottish Government’s targets and is key to becoming a carbon net zero university by 2035.   

Why a circular economy?

There is no landfill in nature. One species’ waste is another’s food, death turns into new life, and so the circulation of life continues.

Humans are the only species that create waste. We take minerals from the ground, create electronic equipment, and dispose of them when newer versions enter the market. This linear approach is not sustainable. It drains resources and pollutes the environment.

Priorities for a circular economy

The University aims to adopt a circular economy and take responsibility for a sustainable future through these five priorities:

Priority 1: Minimise waste 

We are taking small and effective steps to minimising waste.

  • We hold some furniture and office equipment in store. This reduces unnecessary purchases. Staff can request an item by emailing estates@st-andrews.ac.uk.
  • Students can be a part of the town's circular economy. St AndReuse offers clothes, kitchen items, books, furniture and much more for people in St Andrews. Close to 1,000 individuals are engaged in St AndReuse, preventing 5,000kg of items going to landfill every year.
  • Together with 70 business, the University is a part of a town-wide plastic-free campaign. We avoid plastic straws, single-use cutlery and packaging. The campaign also raises awareness of the impact of litter on the marine environment. Both students and staff can get involved with regular beach cleans run through our partners at St Andrews Environment Network and Transition.

Priority 2: Internal reuse 

We work with several initiatives to increase reuse within the University. Whether a student, staff, or community member, we make reuse easier through:

  • St AndReuse, an initiative gathering second-hand clothing, kitchen items, books, electrical items and more for students, staff and locals.
  • WarpIt, a portal to help staff find and reuse office furniture, office equipment and lab equipment. Sign up using your staff account and email environment@st-andrews.ac.uk if you have questions about how to use the portal.
  • UniGreen Scheme, which collects electronic lab equipment still functioning but no longer of use for the University. Contact environment@st-andrews.ac.uk to arrange a collection. 

If you are a staff member looking to give away an unwanted item, contact environment@st-andrews.ac.uk.

Priority 3: External reuse

We work with the British Heart Foundation, Skillshare, and remanufacturing companies to increase external reuse.

  • 17 British Heart Foundation donation banks are spread throughout St Andrews. Your donation of clothes, shoes, books, electrical items, and homeware raises money for life-saving research and prevents items going to landfill.
  • Skillshare is a local initiative that extends the lifecycle of your items. They teach how to mend clothes, patch furniture and revive broken or damaged items.
  • We collaborate with Kinross Wooden Products Company to remanufacture items that cannot be reused. The remanufactured products are either brought back to the University or sold at charity markets. 

Priority 4: Recycling and composting

Items that cannot be avoided, reused or remanufactured are recycled. We provide several ways of recycling and work with students and staff to reduce contamination of the bins.

  • Bin the bin. We are making recycling easier at the University by moving individual office desk bins to centralised recycling bin systems. This gives us a better overview of what we use on a daily basis and helps minimise waste. 
  • Recycle glass bottles, jars, carboard and plastic bottles and containers in the dry mixed recycling bins. You should clean food containers before recycling them. Plastic bags cannot be recycled in these bins.
  • Recycle electronical waste and broken IT equipment. For staff: 1) fill in and send the WEEE uplift form (Excel) to estates@st-andrews.ac.uk, 2) contact the reporting officer for your building, for them to add as a request through the helpdesk. For students in halls: bring the electronic waste to the hall reception. Your Hall Manager will then raise a WEE request. 
  • Recycle batteries, lamps, polystyrene, wood, and scrap metal. Contact estates@st-andrews.ac.uk if you require these items to be collected.
  • Recycle Vegware packaging in the specified Vegware bins. Vegware requires another process than food waste to compost.

Learn more about recycling in Fife (PDF) and read the Little Green Guide (PDF) for more guidance on recycling at the University.

What can you do?

Circular economy requires both operational and behaviour change. Join us for a sustainable future by doing the following:

  • Donate unwanted items to the British Heart Foundation.
  • Buy second-hand from St AndReuse or other local charity shops in St Andrews.
  • Shop for groceries without packaging. The Tree is a student cooperative providing this service.
  • Bring your own cup when out for coffee. Reusable cups are a part of the ‘KeepCup’ campaign and give you a discount when buying hot beverages at the University cafés.
  • Use a refillable water bottle. The University provides free still and sparkling water by using Brita water fountains.
  • Stay digital and print double-sided if you need a paper copy.
  • Use Toolshare and Skillshare to save money (and waste from going to landfill) by fixing and mending.