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Waste and Recycling

Queen Mary University of London is committed to reducing the impact its waste has on the environment, applying the waste hierarchy to all materials collected.

Waste Overview

Based on current estimates, annually we produce 1750 tonnes of waste across our Mile End, Whitechapel and Charterhouse Square campuses. This is the equivalent weight of 438 African elephants. Materials are collected into three different major waste streams and managed once it leaves our campuses by our waste contractor Bywaters.

  • Mixed Recycling: This is taken to a material recovery facility (MRF) where the different materials are separated out and baled. These bales are then sold to various mills where they are used to make new products.
  • Non-recyclable Waste or General Waste: QMUL became a zero waste to landfill University in 2017 meaning this waste is taken by barge down the Thames to an energy from waste incinerator where it is burned to generate electricity for over for 160,000 London homes.
  • Food Waste: As part of our commitment to reducing food waste we use the Too Good to Go app to sell excess food from University and Students' Union outlets at the end of the day. During 2018/19 we saved 797 meals from going to waste. As well as this from January to March we work with Hackney Winter Night Shelter to provide any extra food at the end of the week to the shelter's residents. Find out more about these initiatives in the sections below. 

Our Achievements

  • At the end of every semester, the Students' Union and Residences run our Reuse Scheme which collects university essentials from departing students to give them a second life with new students for free at our Reuse Fairs each January and September. Since 2017 we have given over 2300 kg of usable items a new life. 
  • During the 2018/19 academic year staff and students donated nearly 15,000 books for reuse and recycling through our Better World Books banks at libraries across our campuses.  Books resold through this scheme help to raise money for libraries and global literacy charities. 
  • Our British Heart Foundation donation banks near our student residences from August 2018 to August 2019 collected 1672 bags of donations to be resold in BHF shops, raising £14,000 in the process. 
  • We've established collections for food waste and waste oil produced by our commercial kitchens. Annually we collect approximately 24 tonnes of food waste which is used to create biogas and fertiliser as well as waste cooking oil to be recycled as biodiesel fuel for London taxis. 

Find out more about our efforts to reduce waste on campus and where to dispose of materials via the links below.

If you could not find the information you are looking for, or if you have a specific question for the QMUL Sustainability team, please get in touch by email

In addition, you can get regular updates by following QMUL Sustainability on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter below.