The University of Winchester has pledged to eliminate all unnecessary single-use plastic by December 2020 and calls on individuals and the higher education sector to stand up and take action to combat the climate crisis.
“We are facing a global crisis and it’s time we all did more,” said Professor Joy Carter CBE, DL, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Winchester. “Eliminating unnecessary single-use plastic is just one of many initiatives here at the University to minimise our environmental impact and make a positive difference to the world.”
The University – which is recognised globally for its pioneering work in sustainability and social justice – is implementing the single-use plastic pledge across offices and teaching spaces, catering and sporting facilities, and halls of residence.
Single-use plastic will be replaced where there is a viable alternative, with the aim of significantly reducing their use as well as minimising plastic waste on campus. The University will also work with suppliers to identify items that are not made from recycled material and are not recyclable, and will consider the environmental footprint of potential replacement products to ensure they are as sustainable as possible.
The University is also set to open a new zero waste shop, as part of the West Downs development on Romsey Road in Winchester. From early 2020, staff, students and members of the local community will be welcome to do their grocery shopping on campus.
“As a University, we have a responsibility to ensure we actively engage in sustainable practices ourselves, but we are committed to ensure our impact goes far beyond this,” added Professor Carter. “Sustainability and social responsibility is embedded across our teaching and other activities, as demonstrated by achieving the National Union of Students’ (NUS) Responsible Futures accreditation last month. Through our Climate Change Education Strategy, we ensure our students graduate with an understanding of how climate change is relevant to their subject area and their everyday lives.
“As the University for sustainability and social justice, the climate emergency is at the forefront of our minds but the higher education sector as a whole must work together to make the climate emergency a higher priority than it is at present. Sustainability must be considered as part of every new strategy developed, course planned and contract signed. As big purchasers, we should be putting pressure on supply chains to see real behaviour change.”
Earlier this year, the University of Winchester placed in the top 100 of the worldwide University Impact Rankings put together by Times Higher Education. It recognises universities for their social and economic impact on society, based on their success in delivering the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“I encourage every individual, organisation and sector to stand up and take action” said Professor Carter. “Be inspired and empowered by the Greta Thunberg’s of this world; take the lead from school children who are protesting for change. We need to be positive, peaceful activists to collectively combat the challenges faced as part of the climate emergency.”