Increased recycling rates for the University of Liverpool Students’ Union

SUEZ recycling and recovery UK has been working with Liverpool Guild of Students – the University of Liverpool’s students’ union, which was founded in 1889 and awarded NUS Students’ Union of the Year in 2016.
Our partnership contributes to the ‘Green Guild’, a student-led department established to put students at the hub of sustainability initiatives across the University and the wider community.

The mission

To identify opportunities to improve environmental performance

The Guild’s waste collection facilities were not segregated into waste streams, so all waste was being disposed of in the same place. There was also a lack of training and internal signage to show what waste should go where, which resulted in waste being disposed of incorrectly.

The partnership endeavored to improve communication and awareness of recycling on campus.

Our solution

We conducted a full waste audit to establish a clear picture of the composition and quantity of waste, and to highlight areas for improving efficiency and making cost savings.

This audit revealed that general waste bins greatly out-numbered the dry mixed recycling bins, and that a high proportion of the waste being deposited into the general waste bins was actually suitable for recycling. This led to high disposal costs. We therefore worked with the Guild to trial a different combination of bins.

We also provided advice and training on how to improve the capture of food waste, reduce the frequency of glass collection, and increase the capture of recyclable material.

The results

New bin combinations

The new waste management scheme was implemented in June 2016.

At the start of 2016, there were eight general waste bins which have now been reduced to five. In contrast, the number of dry mixed recycling bins has increased from five to eight, in order to meet the increased quantities of recyclates being captured. The café area now uses dry mixed recycling bins, so they can recycle materials that were previously disposed of as general waste.

Recycling previously made up an average of 24% of the Guild’s waste. This has now increased to an average of 56%, peaking at 79% in August 2016.

Beer cups and glasses

During a visit to the local SUEZ facility in St Helens, Guild representatives established that the beer cups they use are recyclable. The cups account for a substantial amount of their waste, and had previously been disposed of as general waste.

Instead of selling bottled beer, the commercial areas now sell beer on tap. This has reduced the frequency of glass waste collections and led to associated cost savings.


The Guild now holds ‘bin awareness days’ twice a year. At these events, they engage with students and staff through incentivised activities, sharing recycling knowledge to ensure that the right waste is put in the right bin.

To encourage waste segregation right from the source, the information provided by SUEZ was used to create posters, cards and signage near the bins, to show what waste should go where.

  • An average increase in recycling 32%
  • Reduction of general waste bins
  • Prevention of waste generated by disposal of plastic cups

Customer comment

The Guild has seen an improvement in staff and student engagement, and is now in control of its waste, feeding into their ongoing ‘Green Guild’ project.

“A simple solution creating a huge impact: I appreciate the responsiveness of SUEZ and the way that they worked together with us in order to find the right solution for our needs.”

– Dave Wheatley, Green Guild Project Manager

See also

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