Circular economy

The University is moving from a linear to a circular waste management system, which 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 circle 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 four priorities.

Priority 1: Minimise waste

We are taking small and effective steps to minimising waste.

  • We hold some furniture and office equipment in store to reduce unnecessary purchases. Staff can request an item by emailing
  • 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 1000 individuals are engaged in St AndReuse, preventing 5000kg of items going to landfill every year.
  • Together with 70 businesses, 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.
  • 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 you are a student, staff, or community member, we can make reusing 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 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 to arrange a collection. 

If you are a staff member looking to give away an unwanted item, email the Environment team at

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. The initiative also offers lessons on 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.

Initiatives include:

  • 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. 
  • Though the University does not provide glass recycling bins, bottles and jars can be placed in designated glass recycling bins located throughout St Andrews.
  • Plastic bottles and containers, cans, paper, and cardboard should be placed in the dry mixed recycling bins.
  • Staff can recycle electronic waste and broken IT equipment: either fill in and send the WEEE uplift form (Excel) to or contact the relevant buliding reporting officer and ask them to add a request through the helpdesk.
  • Students in halls can bring electronic waste to the hall reception and your Halls Life Coordinator will raise a WEE request.
  • To recycle batteries, lamps, polystyrene, wood, and scrap metal email the University Estates team at who will collect the items.
  • Recycle Vegware packaging in the specified Vegware bins as it requires a different composting process to food waste.

Learn more about recycling in Fife on the Fife Council website.

What can you do?

A circular economy requires both operational and behaviour change.

You can help secure a sustainable future by:

  • Donating unwanted items to the British Heart Foundation.
  • Buying second-hand items from St AndReuse or other local charity shops in St Andrews.
  • Shopping for groceries without packaging from The Tree, a student cooperative providing this service.
  • Taking your own cup when going for coffee: reusable cups are a part of the KeepCup campaign and give you a discount when buying hot beverages at the University cafés.
  • Using a refillable water bottle: the University provides free still and sparkling water through Brita water fountains.
  • Only printing when you absolutely must and printing double-sided when you need a paper copy.
  • Using Toolshare and Skillshare to share, fix and mend, which saves money and stops waste from going to landfill.