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Waste and recycling

As part of Exeter’s commitment to improving the sustainability of the College, it is actively seeking to reduce its waste generation and, where necessary, shift a greater proportion of its waste to more sustainable recycling and anaerobic digestion.

Exeter partners with SELECT Environmental Services to measure, remove, and process its waste such that none of it goes to a landfill. Refuse is instead sorted into three categories:

  • Food waste is processed by anaerobic digestion, in which microorganisms break down biodegradable material, producing both energy and useful compost.
  • Glass and dry mixed recycling items are sent to a Materials Recovery Facility where they are separated into individual material streams such as paper, cardboard, plastics, and metals, for reprocessing.
  • All other general waste is sent to an energy-from-waste plant, where it is burned to produce electricity.

All college facilities, including student accommodation, include clearly labeled recycling bins and sealed food waste containers are in every kitchen. The College monitors waste production across all of its sites, both to detect anomalies and promote improvement.

In 2023, SELECT collected 106 tonnes of waste from Exeter College, which was marginally lower than the 108 tonnes collected in 2022, although it included more waste streams. More than 40% of the College’s waste is directed towards more sustainable categories: in 2023, more than 25% of waste was recycled and over 15% was sent to anaerobic digestion. Still, there is much room for improvement: Exeter is committed to reducing the overall tonnage and increasing its share of composting and recycling.

Exeter is working to reduce the use of single-use plastic across our catering operations. We have replaced plastic bottles of water with fountains in the Hall and Conference Lobby and we provide reusable glass water bottles in our meeting and conference rooms. We encourage the use of plastic cups, subsidizing their cost, and use reusable plates and cutlery across all regular food service. Our conference and B&B guests receive toiletries that are oxo-biodegradable and recyclable, including the packaging.

Each year we take any unwanted bicycles from around the College and donate them to charity. Most recently, these were collected by Recycle Your Cycle.