• Waste & Recycling

Waste & Recycling

Waste at GCU is generated from day-to-day operations in Glasgow and London, construction and refurbishment activity at Glasgow and from Caledonian Court (the University’s student residencies).

In 2018-19 the University produced 495 tonnes, which was 25% less than the 670 tonnes produced in 2014-15 (our baseline). The majority (75%) of waste is arises from day-to-day operations at the campus in Glasgow and is either separated for recycling (60%) or processed to recover energy (40%), with none sent to landfill.


pie chart of arisings by source at GCU
bar chart with treatment of waste from glasgow

In defining how we manage our waste, the University is very much guided by the waste hierarchy and the principles of the circular economy, as detailed by in:

This section highlights our waste minimisation initiatives and details what can be recycled at GCU. If you have any questions or suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact us.  You can also find out what happens to our waste that cannot be recycled and how our approach to waste management has changed since 2008-09.

GCU baselines against 2008-09 because that’s the first academic year a comprehensive waste data is available for (although not complete). 2008-09 was also the year the University introduced an environmental management system to identify and manage environmental impacts in a managed and structured way.

Different recycling points around campus

Options for non-recyclable waste

We acknowledge that some waste streams or GCU locations have limited/no recycling options. Where this is the case, we work with our waste contractors to explore the next best option on the waste hierarchy for specific waste streams.

About a third of the waste from our Glasgow Campus is processed for energy recovery as a refuse derived fuel, whilst the general waste from our student residencies, handled by Glasgow City Council, and waste from GCU London are currently landfilled.  

We regularly review the options available for these locations and will introduce options higher up the waste hierarchy as soon as practicable.

Visit the Reporting and Data pages of our sustainability website to find out what proportions of waste is processed into RDF or landfilled

Construction & Demolition Waste

With the exception of major refurbishment works, GCU does not generate significant amounts of construction/demolition waste, but when we do, we work with specialist contractors that have a track record for maximising recycling and landfill diversion.  Details of the quantity of construction/demolition waste produced by GCU are available from the Reporting and Data sections of our sustainability pages.

The evolution of waste management at GCU

GCU’s waste management approach is driven by the principles of the waste hierarchy and has evolved its focus away from landfill to waste minimisation and recycling.   Below are the key milestones in the evolution of GCU’s waste management arrangements:

  • 2011 - End of a landfill centred waste contract. Introduction of separate collections for food and glass waste facilitate unsegregated recycling.
  • 2013 – GCU’s contractor starts processing residual waste into a refuse derived fuel (RDF), ensuring that energy can be recovered from a significant proportion of wastes previously landfilled.   The University also introduces a furniture sharing portal to ensure useable furniture arising as a result of refurbishment projects is discarded.
  • 2014 – GCU struggles to meet new, industry-wide criteria for materials collected for recycling and as a result a significant proportion of GCU’s waste is treated for RDF.
  • 2015 – GCU uses the award of a new waste contract to focus on improving the quality of materials segregated for recycling by removing ‘contaminants’.  To help reduce the amount of paper cups mixed with materials collected for recycling, the University’s caterers introduce a 10p discount for anyone using a reusable mug to purchase hot drinks from catering outlets across campus.