News and Views

University College Cork to go plastic free

6 Dec 2022
University College Cork (UCC) will go plastic free in the new year. UCC will eliminate all single-use plastic in its operations throughout on campus dining, shops and vending machines from 2 January 2023. Pictured are Natasha Sutton, UCC Student’s Union Environmental and Sustainability Officer, UCC President Professor John O’Halloran, and Sinéad Roche, UCC Students’ Union Communications & Engagement Officer. Image Credit: UCC/Ruben Tapia.
  • ‘Plastic Free UCC’ will save more than 140,000 plastic bottles and 370,000 coffee cups per year.
  • It will save 560,000 plastic bottles and 1.4 million coffee cups during a graduate’s four-year degree.

Tuesday, 6 December: University College Cork (UCC) announced today it is going plastic free in the new year. UCC will eliminate all single-use plastic in its operations throughout on campus dining, shops and vending machines from 2 January 2023.

‘Plastic Free UCC’ is the latest initiative by the University which is focused on continuous improvement for sustainability across its activities.

Professor John O’Halloran, UCC President, said: “Reducing our use of disposable plastic is significant step forward in our sustainability efforts at UCC. We cannot continue to overconsume plastic in the name of convenience.  In the areas of research and action towards the transition to more sustainable society, UCC will continue to lead and hopefully inspire action.”

Asha Woodhouse, UCC Students’ Union President said: “Single-Use Plastics are a significant source of environmental pollution. This has been recognised by UCC Students' Union for a number of years, and in 2018 we launched a petition to make UCC a single-use plastic free campus by 2023 which reached over 8,000 signatures. I am delighted to see the University Leadership Team, SUP Action Group and UCC Green Campus implement a policy that will deliver this ambition and once again position UCC as a leader nationally and internationally in sustainability."

Dr Maria Kirrane, UCC Sustainability Officer, said: “By reducing single-use plastics on campus, we reduce the amount of waste going to the landfill. While we can make efforts to increase our recycling rates, recent studies have determined that only about 14% of all plastic is recycled. In 2019, UCC generated 817 tonnes of waste, over half of which was recyclable i.e., paper and plastic waste.”

Michael Gleeson, CEO of KSG, UCC’s catering partner, said: “We are delighted to continue our innovative partnership with UCC and these projects in partnership with the UCC Green campus are leading the way and delivering real and substantive change.”

Achieving a plastic-free future

‘Plastic Free UCC’ initiatives include:

  • 34 water refill stations across campus.
  • 2GoCups, the deposit and return scheme, will be available at all KSG outlets allowing students, staff, and guests to avail of the use of a reusable cup for a €2 deposit.
  • 12 Fresh Cup mini dishwashers will be installed across campus.
  • Crockery mugs will be available in all outlets.
  • 1,500 reusable cups were handed out to students and staff in November.
  • The sale of a variety keep-cups and water bottles at various price points.

Over the coming weeks, the following single-use plastics will be reduced in an economical way.

  • Single-use beverage cups
  • Single-use plastic bottles
  • Single-use salad containers/lunch boxes
  • Single-use plastic cutlery

The journey to plastic-free

In 2010, University College Cork was the first third level education institute worldwide to receive the Green Campus award. The student-led Green Campus Committee, co-chaired by the SU Communications & Engagement Officer and the Vice-Chairperson of UCC Environmental Society, meets regularly to discuss ideas and campaigns to ensure sustainability is at the heart of all university strategies and decision-making processes.

In 2017, UCC banned disposable coffee cups from its library as part of the Green Library campaign. In 2018, UCC launched Ireland’s first single-use plastic free café. In the same year, more than 8,000 UCC students signed a petition calling for the removal of single-use plastics from campus shops, cafes and restaurants.

UCC is recognised nationally and internationally as a leading green University and ranked 8th in the Times Higher Education Impact ranking contribution to the SDGs.

University College Cork

Coláiste na hOllscoile Corcaigh

College Road, Cork T12 K8AF

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