Ditch The Disposables
Delivering on Plastic Free UCC
In October 2018 UCC Student’s Union launched a petition to make UCC a single-use plastic free campus by 2023. This followed the SU’s move to provide a free reusable bamboo mug to all incoming first year students in Academic Year 2017/18, with funding from Cork City Council. The SU’s petition reached over 8,000 signatures. It calls on the university to become completely free of the following single-use plastic items by 2023; Disposable Cups, Plastic Bottles, Plastic Straws, Plastic Salad Containers, Plastic Cutlery & Plastic Packaging for UCC products (eg- Sweet Tubs/Sandwiches etc).
In spite of the return to disposables over the course of the Covid19 pandemic, UCC Green Campus has continued to work across campus with the aim of delivering on tis ambition. In 2022, the University Leadership Team agreed UCC's new Single Use Plastic Policy. The Policy covers SUPs sold by UCC’s suppliers and subsidiary companies and any market stalls permitted to trade on UCC campus. The items covered by this policy include:
- Single-Use beverage containers i.e. coffee cups, drinks cups etc.
- Single-Use salad containers/lunch boxes
- Single-Use plastic cutlery
- Single-Use plastic bottles (e.g. for water/ soft drinks)
- Further SUP items may be added to this list at a later date by the SUP Action Group, and it will be clearly communicated to all relevant stakeholders where applicable
The Policy agreed that the 1st January 2023, SUPS will have been completely phased out of all UCC Restaurants, catering and vending services.
This is an exciting development in Plastic Free UCC and includes a number of infrastructural improvements also.
KSG recently rolled out their new “Zero Waste Cup” which replaces the disposable cups previously used in catering. The new cup is reusable up to 1000 times and should remain in circulation so please leave the cups for collection by KSG after use. Water for events is now available in two different options – refillable glass bottles or Tetra-Pak.
In the coming weeks 2GoCup will also be launched in campus, this is a deposit return scheme where customers, that do not have their own reusable mug, can pay €1 deposit for a reusable 2GoCup. The cup can be returned to any outlet for a refund of the €1, or swapped out for a fresh cup the next time the customer visits. These cups are 12oz in size and have been designed to be used 1,000 times.
Of course, all students and staff are encouraged to continue to bring their own reusable cups to campus outlets. To support this, UCC are also installing a number of FreshCup stations across campus. FreshCup is essentially a tiny dishwasher that completely cleans and sanitises your cups, plates and cutlery in 30 seconds.
UCC take on single-use plastics as part of “Green Library” campaign
UCC has been working to reduce single-use plastic on campus for the last two years. In September 2017, UCC staff and students were banned from taking disposable coffee cups into the library as part of the Green Library campaign. To support the transition, discounts were made available at outlets across campus when students/staff bring your reusable mug. This also coincided with the rolling out of the “binless” office system in the library. The system has seen all small bins removed from every floor, in both the student and staff areas, and two large recycling centres put in place in the ground floor. In doing this, it is thought that up to 10,000 plastic bags will be diverted from landfill each year.
UCC BioCafe becomes country’s first “single-use plastic free” cafe
In September 2018, UCC and KSG joined forced to launch Ireland’s first single-use plastic free cafe at the Biosciences Institute. All plastic drink bottles have been removed from the café and have been replaced with glass bottles and cans. Customers won’t find any plastic sachets of sauces, disposal cutlery, or plastic wrapped snacks. The café has an integrated water fountain system with built-in washing capability for students and staff to use. Fresh vegetables and produce are delivered daily from the university’s farm along and local producer Waterfall Farms in Curraheen. Vegetables are delivered with no wrapping in long life containers which are returned to the supplier each day. Chicken, ham and cheese are sourced from suppliers in the English Market and these products are also delivered with no wrapping in reusable return containers. Meanwhile, an extensive recycling and waste segregation area has been installed in the café and the station also contains an integrated digital scales. General and recyclable waste volumes have now been reduced by 95%.