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Environment and sustainability

Solent is committed to addressing the challenges presented by the climate and ecological crisis. We are embedding sustainable practices in our teaching, research, campus operations and through engagement with our university community. Students and staff can all make a positive impact on the environment through the actions they take.

Health, Safety and Environment team

The University's Health, Safety and Environment team manage sustainability at Solent:

  • Dr Laurie Wright - Senior Lecturer Science and Engineering - Education for Sustainable Development academic co-lead

Sustainability is in the portfolio of responsibilities of Paul Colbran, Chief Operations Officer, a member of the Vice-Chancellor's Group and Chair of Solent Sustainability Group.

Solent Sustainability Group

Solent Sustainability Group is the committee that guides the University's sustainability work and ensures we're meeting our environmental commitments and embedding sustainable practices in all areas of the institution. It's made up of representatives from faculties, professional services and the Students' Union. Read the terms of reference and membership of the committee. It's reporting is through the Vice Chancellor's Group. 

Environmental certification

The University’s Environmental Management System (EMS) brings together all our environmental and sustainability initiatives under one umbrella. The EMS has been awarded ISO14001:2015 certification and EcoCampus Platinum status in recognition of the University’s work on reducing and managing its environmental impacts.

EcoCampus Platinum logo

New starters

If you are a new member of staff at Solent, read the environmental information for new starters for a brief introduction to how environment and sustainability are managed at the University. You can find out more about the University's environmental initiatives and how to become involved in green activities on campus.

Strategy and policies

The University has policies and strategies in place providing detailed action plans and targets for waste, energy and water reduction, biodiversity, procurement, sustainable construction and travel. They also cover student, staff and community engagement activities and plans, including various well-established initiatives, such as Green Impact and Student Switch Off.

The Environmental Policy sets out the University's commitments towards the environment. Senior management is responsible for ensuring that the necessary resources are available for the implementation of these commitments on campus.

The University’s approach to sustainability and the environment is detailed in the Environmental and Sustainability Enabling Plan and other key policies, approved by the Management Board.

Some items in the Environmental and Sustainability Strategy are further developed in specific management plans including carbon, travel and biodiversity.

Carbon management plan

Travel plan

Travel action plan 2016-2021

Biodiversity survey and action plan

Other relevant policies and certificates are presented below.

Ethical investment policy

Sustainable food policy

Environmental Management System Manual

What can I do?

Students and staff can get directly involved in helping the University achieve a better environment and improve sustainability through a number of University initiatives.

If you would like to know more about the programmes below or any other environmental initiatives at the University, please contact the Environmental and Sustainability Team at We'd love to hear your ideas for reducing the University's waste, water and carbon footprint, and making our campuses as environmentally friendly as possible.

Sowlent Food Garden

Wouldn't it be great if you could spend some time on campus in the sun, making new friends and planting and growing your own fruit and veg?⠀Oh, can!⠀The Food Garden is our allotment on campus, located by the Sports Complex. If you'd like to get involved please email

Green Impact

Green Impact focuses on small tasks any team of people working in schools and offices can complete to become more sustainable.

The teams' efforts are recognised with different levels of Green Impact awards from bronze to platinum. Student volunteers are also fundamental to help us audit and learn about the teams’ efforts and decide on which award they should receive.

Student Switch Off

Students in the residences can join the Student Switch Off competition to help their residence become the best energy saving residence at the University.

The students living in the winning residence will receive prizes, as well as all students participating in the several events that take place during the competition.


Blackout is a University campaign to raise awareness and tackle energy waste and carbon emissions. It demonstrates the real savings that can be achieved with just a few small changes to the way we work.

On one Friday evening during the academic year, teams of staff and student volunteers visit offices and teaching rooms around campus to switch off computer monitors, lights, printers and other small power. Afterwards, teams gather together to report on the savings and enjoy an after-Blackout party. These small switch-off actions really do add up, and lower the University's energy use and carbon footprint during the Blackout weekend. 

Energy saving tips

Saving energy at the University and at home

Our everyday activities generate emissions of carbon dioxide and other harmful greenhouse gases which lead to climate change, the greatest challenge facing humanity.

Reducing energy consumption decreases the emission of greenhouse gases - it also saves money and resources. Here are some ways you can reduce energy use:


Rooms are often over lit. Do you need lights switched on when you have natural lighting and you are looking at a computer screen? Does the whole room need to be lit, if it is only partially occupied?

  1. Turn off unnecessary lights, especially when you are the last person to leave. Don’t assume lights will turn off automatically.
  2. Avoid having blinds closed and lights turned on. Make the most of natural light by adjusting the blinds to cut the glare while providing light.
  3. Many lights have dimming controls – you can reduce lighting levels to save energy.
  4. The University is gradually replacing all inefficient lights. The largest savings have been from replacing halogen spotlights with LEDs. Do the same at home if you can.

Heating and cooling

In most locations, heating and cooling account for the greatest use of energy.

  1. Where fitted with controls, radiators should be set no higher than '3' or rooms will become stuffy and energy will be wasted. A comfortable temperature for most rooms is 21- 22ºC - set thermostats accordingly. A 1ºC reduction can save 10% on heating bills.
  2. Wearing extra layers of thin clothing will help you stay both warm and comfortable without the need for additional heating. Dress for the weather and the time of year!
  3. Make sure external doors are properly closed after you, especially in colder periods.
  4. If it’s too warm, make sure radiators are turned off before opening windows and doors to provide natural ventilation. Air conditioning should be used only as a last resort - it consumes up to 100 times more energy than a desk fan. Sometimes, we have seen both radiators and air conditioning in use at the same time - a huge waste of energy!

Other electrical equipment

  1. Set your computer to 'sleep mode' and turn off your monitor when leaving your desk.
  2. Switch off your equipment before leaving work (not network printers/copiers)
  3. Take the stairs instead of the lift whenever possible.
  4. Fill the kettle with only as much water as you need.
  5. If you have access to a dishwasher, make sure it is full before you turn it on. Use the ECO programme whenever possible
  6. Do you have equipment left on standby? It costs a typical home over £200 a year.


The average UK individual’s carbon emissions from travel are higher than from their home (heating, lighting, cooking, electrical, etc). Although it is not always convenient or easy to avoid using a car, please consider other options. As well as cost savings, there are often considerable health benefits.

  1. Consider walking, cycling or using public transport whenever possible.
  2. Cycle facilities at the University include covered secure shelters, lockers and showers. The University has a Bicycle Users’ Group (BUGS) to supports cyclists and loan bikes are available for staff to hire, free of charge.
  3. The University offers the Cycle2Work scheme and interest free loans for staff to purchase a cycle or season ticket for travelling to work. 
  4. Can you share a lift? Preferential parking arrangements are available for long-term lift-sharers.
  5. Use a small car, travel fewer miles, share when possible (and save money).
  6. Minimise air travel - one return flight from the UK to the US can exceed the per-person carbon emission from a year’s car use.


Reducing, reusing and recycling waste also saves energy as we don't need to extract, transport and transform raw materials to make new products.

  1. The largest avoidable cause of waste at the University is contamination of recyclable materials with food and liquids. Please make sure food waste is disposed of properly.
  2. Another major source of waste is disposable coffee cups and plastic bottles. Buy a reusable cup and reusable bottle just once to save money and resources.
  3. Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Follow the suggestions below.
  4. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! Use the Solent Reuse Portal on Planon to advertise and claim any office items which are surplus to requirements, for use on campus at and home. Simply add the Reuse Portal to your homepage on Planon by clicking on the cog on the top right of the screen and selecting the Solent Reuse Portal gadget from the toolbar.

Waste and recycling

The University currently recycles 49% of all its waste. We're aiming to achieve a 55% recycling rate by 2025 but to do so we'll need staff and students to play their part.

The University is in a joint waste and recycling contract with the University of Southampton, University of Portsmouth, University of Winchester, Bournemouth University, Southampton City College, Arts University Bournemouth and University of The Creative Arts. As the South Coast Affinity Group we share services and best practice to on reduce waste and increase recycling in partnership with our current waste contractor Suez. 

The University achieved zero waste to landfill in 2013 and any waste that cannot be reused and recycled is sent for energy recovery.

Waste receptacles on campus

PPE bins

Multiple PPE bins can now be found around the campus to safely dispose of single-use face coverings and PPE. Please note, these bins will only be emptied on a Monday to reduce contamination risk. If you require an interim empty, please contact the Estates and Facilities Helpdesk.

Waste and recycling bin

Central waste and recycling bins are located in offices, lecture rooms and corridors. Lids and flaps have been removed, where appropriate, to minimise communal touch points.

Food waste caddies

Are available in all campus kitchens. Users are requested to wash their hands before and after use.

Waste prevention

Before considering recycling, priority should always be given to preventing waste from being produced in the first place. This idea is represented by the famous 3 Rs.

In order of priority these are:


Don’t use more than what you actually need. Here’s how:

  1. Avoid buying products that have excess packaging.
  2. Drink tap water, not bottled - you can find fountains to refill your bottle in all catering areas and numerous other location across campus.
  3. Avoid cooking/ordering too much food - don’t create unnecessary food waste.
  4. Where possible, choose products that will last a long time or that can be reused, instead of disposable items.
  5. Only print or photocopy when really necessary - use double-sided or reduce the size if you can.


Use items more than once so they last longer, or give them away to someone who needs them. Here are some tips:

  1. When ordering drinks, use a reusable cup or ask for china cups instead of using disposable cups. Disposable cups are not easily recycled.
  2. Use a reusable water bottle and refill it with tap water. The impact of bottled water on natural resources is 3,500 times higher than for tap water, scientists have found.
  3. Take a reusable bag when you go shopping.
  4. If you are a member of staff, use the Solent Reuse Portal on Planon to advertise office items and furniture you no longer need; find office equipment that other staff are happy to give away, for use on campus at and home.
  5. Reuse office folders and stationery (check for listings on the Solent Reuse Portal), rather than order new items.


If you can avoid producing waste or can’t reuse it anymore, make sure it is always placed in the correct bin. Recycling allows materials to be transformed into new products, conserving resources, saving energy, preventing pollution and reducing waste.

What can you recycle?

Waste needs to be sorted correctly so that it can be recycled. Many items can be recycled if separated. If we don’t sort our waste correctly, recycling can become contaminated, costing the University money and using natural resources unnecessarily.

The University provides three main types of waste containers on campus and in student residences:

Recycling bins

Cans, paper, glass, cardboard, plastic bottles, and plastic pots, tubs and trays. These should be free of any food or liquid contamination.

See what should go in the recycling bin 

Food caddies

Yes please
Food (cooked and uncooked), tea bags, bread, fruit skins, uneaten sandwiches and pizza crusts.

No thanks
Tissues, wooden stirrers, wrapping or packaging of any sort.

General waste bins

Items contaminated with food or liquids – like coffee cups or dirty pizza boxes and sandwich cartons. Also tissues, crisp packets, chewing gum and sauce sachets.

Battery recycling

Drop off points for battery recycling can be found at the Estates Helpdesk and the Students’ Union. Battery types that can be recycled here are 6V, D, C, AA, AAA, 9V and button batteries. Lithium batteries must be fully discharged before being disposed of. Batteries must NOT be disposed of in the general waste and recycling bins.

Milk bottle top recycling

Staff are encouraged to set up their own milk bottle top collection in their office or kitchen and when they have a large enough amount, drop off at Lush in West Quay. It must be milk bottle tops only (blue green, red or purple) and not include fizzy drink or water bottle tops. Milk bottle tops are made of high-grade HDPE plastic and keeping them separate from other recyclable materials allows them to be turned into pellets, melted down and re-made into new items including traffic cones, children's play slides, and more milk bottle tops.

Living in private accommodation

If you’re living in private rented accommodation across Southampton, recycling at home will look a bit different:

Green-lidded bin: General household waste that cannot be recycled by Southampton City Council. This includes food waste and some plastics.

Blue-lidded bin: Recycling bin. The Council will accept paper, cardboard, tins, cans, empty aerosol cans and plastic bottles.

Take a look at this video to check which plastics can go in the blue-lidded bin.

What happens to our recycled materials


Waste placed in the recycling bins is taken to a materials recycling facility (MRF) to be separated. The recovered materials are then sold to companies that use them to make new products.

Reprocessing outlets for our recyclable materials:

  • Paper and card - two-thirds reprocessed in UK, remaining third reprocessed in Europe, with a small fraction sent to South East Asia
  • Glass – reprocessed at Recresco in Southampton
  • Metals - UK
  • Wood - UK
  • Plastics
    • HDPE and PET (eg, plastic bottles) – UK
    • Other grades of plastic (eg, yogurt pots, margarine tubs and food trays) – UK and Europe
  • Hazardous waste and Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment - UK

See what happens at a materials recycling facility


Food waste collected from the University goes through a process called anaerobic digestion at a facility in Dorset. This turns the biodegradable materials into compost which can be used in agriculture. Biogas is produced as the materials are digested and is captured to produce energy.

See what happens at an anaerobic digestion facility

General waste

Waste placed in the general waste bins, along with any contaminated bags of recycling, is taken for incineration at an Energy from Waste (EfW)facility that produces electricity during the process. Although this is preferable to landfill, recycling is much more environmentally friendly.

See how energy can be produced from waste

What is general waste?

The general waste stream is for items that are not recyclable and which are not hazardous - this includes anything dirty, wet and/or containing leftover food. Our general waste stream is primarily for non-recyclable waste. In offices and classrooms, food and other non-hazardous wet waste should also be disposed of within this stream. There are a number of types of waste that are not recyclable within our current contract. If any of the following are produced in your area, they should be placed into the general waste:

  • ‘Dirty’ packaging, including contaminated with food (although you could also rinse or empty it if you had the chance and pop the packaging into the mixed recycling bin instead!)
  • Disposable cups
  • Polystyrene
  • Paper towels and tissues
  • Aerosols  - these cannot be accepted in the University’s recycling scheme
  • Composite materials (mixed materials bonded together) including crisp packets, food and drink cartons including Tetra-paks.
  • Shredded paper containing non-sensitive or confidential content - this is too small to be handled in the recycling machinery.
  • Sawdust
  • Where no food waste bin is available – food waste including coffee granules and tea bags and anything substantially wet.

Disposal of confidential waste

Confidential waste comprises documents containing information that can be used to identify individuals, including their name, address, contact numbers or financial data. This includes student records, personal data on health, ethnicity, sexuality, religious beliefs, bank details and records of employment. Dispose of confidential waste properly by placing documents in the confidential waste bins in offices. These are clearly marked. Please do not leave waste outside confidential waste bins as this breaches data protection regulations.

Food Garden images