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Our Impact

Warwick SU’s Environmental Impact

At Warwick Students’ Union, we are committed to continually improving our impact on the environment.

We aim to do this by reviewing our environmental policy annually to ensure it is relevant, by integrating best practice in our activities and trying to include environmental consideration in our day-to-day business decisions. We monitor our performance on waste production and energy usage with the aim of reducing both where it is possible, and we look at ways to reduce any associated negative impacts from our activities.

This section of the website shows our current policy and details on the various activities we have identified as having greatest environmental impact.

If you have suggestions for how we can reduce our environmental impact, please contact:

Becca Brown, Environment and Ethics Officer - Rebecca

Milly Last, Democracy and Development Officer -  Liam Jackson

Duncan Parkes, Facilities and Safety Manager -

Policy Aims

Warwick Students’ Union is committed to improving our sustainability processes and our impact on the environment.

We acknowledge that this extends beyond our legal and regulatory obligations.

We look to continually embed good practice within our day-to-day activities and consider the environmental impact of the decisions we make as a business.

To this effect, we endeavour to:

  • Comply with and, where possible, exceed all relevant regulatory requirements.
  • Continually improve and monitor environmental performance.
  • Continually improve and reduce the environmental impacts of our activities.
  • Incorporate environmental factors into organisational decisions.
  • Increase employee awareness through training and communications.
  • Remain involved and be successful with NUS Green Impact.
  • Reduce our volume of general waste and thereby increase the volume of materials we recycle or reuse.
  • Support the University to achieve their environmental policy aims, especially their efforts to integrate environmental issues into all relevant aspects of the University’s teaching and research activities.
  • Lobby the University on environmental issues affecting our members.
  • Work with student groups to support the achievement of their environmental aims where they are not in conflict with this policy.


  • We will involve staff and officers in the implementation of this policy, for greater commitment and improved performance
  • We will review this policy at least annually in consultation with staff, officers, members and other stakeholders as relevant, and update it when necessary.
  • Inductions for new members of staff will include information on our Environmental Policy to ensure they understand and comply with it, consider the environment in their work decisions, and understand our recycling facilities and procedures.
  • We will ensure that our environmental policy is communicated to our members and particularly officers, clubs and societies
General Waste

From 2008/9 to 2017/18, the SU has reduced the volume of waste sent to landfill by over 36%, and we have continued to improve throughout the 2018/19 academic year, currently running 15% down compared to 2017/18.

Due to better use of recycling facilities (including glass, plastic, cardboard, paper, used cooking oil, food plate waste), we have also managed to reduce the compactor collections from twice weekly to once a week during our busy times, and fortnightly during our quieter times - thus further improving our carbon footprint by reducing vehicle journeys.

All of our general waste is disposed through Coventry Council, who send all recyclable material to specialist treatment facilities. All other general waste that cannot be recycled is sent to their own waste to energy plant where it is incinerated and converted to energy.

This means that we have zero waste going to landfill.

If you have any suggestions of how we could further reduce the environmental impact from our waste, please get in touch with


Our general recycling for paper, plastic, metals and mixed recyclables is done through Coventry Council. We also recycle cardboard separately through Clews Recycling where we bale larger cardboard such as boxes to reduce it's size to allow larger amounts to be transported, reducing the number of vehicles needed to transport it.

Plastic Recycling

We endeavour to recycle all of the plastic used within the Students' Union that can be recycled. Where it is feasible we look to eliminate the plastic that can't be recycled, and we aim to reduce our plastic usage overall.

We have eliminated the use of plastic straws and cutlery and we are replacing our packaging where it is viable. All of the bottled products we sell within our outlets are now in glass with the exception of a few products, these being VK within The Copper Rooms, and bottled water within the Bread Oven.

The largest plastic usage within our premises is from our licensed areas, and this is largely from The Copper Rooms where we use flexible plastic cups and sell VK in PET to reduce cut injuries to our customers.

Within our other licensed areas we will operate on glass wherever possible and will only switch to plastic if it is deemed necessary for customer safety. For example during larger sporting events such as the World Cup we will operate on plastic for those customers taking drinks outside.

We aim to collect in as much of the plastic that is used within our licensed areas as possible to recycle, and estimate this to be about 90% of our total usage. The rest is usually either contaminated or not easily separated from other waste.

We are looking to source a viable alternative to replace the plastic cups we use that meets the needs of our operations, whilst being competitive in price, and has a lower environmental impact than our current solution.

Why do we use single use plastic cups?

Warwick SU currently use recycled plastic disposables on some of our bar operations, These are made of a type of plastic called PET (type 1). This is the UK’s most sought after plastic for recycling and all recycling facilities will readily accept it. We believe this is currently our best option within the Copper Rooms (and within our other licensed areas when safety becomes a concern). We make every attempt to  ensure as many of these plastic cups as possible are recycled.

However we do acknowledge this is not the ideal solution.

Owing to space constraints when the SU was redeveloped in 2008 the Copper Rooms bars were designed without glass washing facilities and storage spaces.

Without another building redevelopment or a huge financial investment, it is not currently possible to install these facilities.

 An alternative option is disposable glasses made from ‘PLA’ (a biopolymer called polylactic acid which derives from GM corn). These are marketed as compostable but will not compost on domestic composts heaps, as litter, in the ground, or in the sea.

There are very few composting facilities in the UK that will accept them, and none viable for the SU to use currently. If mixed with regular plastic recycling it results in contamination leading to all the plastics going to landfill

 Another option is degradable plastic cups, often sold as biodegradable and made from oxo-degradable plastic. This type of plastic is regular plastic that has chemicals added to break it down into smaller pieces of plastic, which then leads to the formation of microplastics.

There is an increasing concern regarding microplastics, which are being found inside vast ranges of marine life (including fish and shellfish bound for human consumption),  all the way down to  zooplankton which make up the base of the ocean food chain. Research has shown microplastics can adversely affect growth and reproduction.

Microplastics can also carry organic micropollutants and secondary pollutants absorbed from seawater. These toxins could potentially be passed into animal tissue and up the food chain.

Yet another option is paper cups suitable for licensed premises, which are made from card lined with regular plastic or PLA plastic, but as a mixed material, they cannot currently be recycled in an economically viable and scalable way. This is the large-scale issue currently facing disposable coffee cups.

Device Recycling

As well as the recycling facilities we have had in place for a number of years now (glass, plastic, cardboard, paper, used cooking oil), we now have a new recycling box in the Central Admin office in SUHQ that will take Mobile phones, MP3 Players, Digital Cameras, Sat Navs and Hand Held Game Consoles.

Stationery Amnesty

We run regular stationary amnesties throughout the year so that uneeded items are not left lying idle in desk drawers, and instead put back in circulation within the SU. This results in the SU having to order less stationery, and thus also helps reduce transport and packaging waste etc.

In conjunction with the University we will also host a stall periodically in the atrium area of the Students Union where we will give away unneeded folders and the like. Details on when this happens will be available on our website as and when we have folders to distribute.

Pen Recycling

There is now a Pen Recycling box in the Central Admin office in SUHQ.

Next time your pen runs out, rather than throwing it away, please drop it into the pen recycling box.

Toner Recycling

All of our toner cartridges are now recycled through (


We aim to minimise the use of paper in our offices by only printing what we need to print, and then ensuring where feasible printing is double sided. We purchase recycled and recyclable paper products whenever feasible and available, and we reuse and recycle all paper where possible.

We aim to reduce our paper consumption over the course of each financial year and we have been recording our paper purchases since 2012/13, which are as follows:

Paper recycling statistics per year
Energy & Water

We will seek to reduce the amount of energy used as much as possible.

Lights and electrical equipment will be switched off when not in use.

Heating will be adjusted with energy consumption in mind.

The energy consumption and efficiency of new products will be taken into account when purchasing.

Carbon Footprint

Carbon Dioxide Equivalent Output (in Tonnes) per year

Carbon dioxide equivalent output per year

Display Energy Certificates (DECs)

Display Energy Certificates (DECs) provide an A-G rating for non-domestic buildings based on actual energy use. The following shows our performance. A rating of 100 and a grade of D is typical for this type of property. Premises are graded A-G with A being the most energy-efficient

Display energy certificates per year


There are many initiatives that have been put in place in the last few years, and which are ongoing within our buildings to reduce energy use and improve our impact on the environment. The following are some of the examples of these.

L.E.D. lighting

The majority of lighting within our buildings has been, or is in the process of being, changed over to L.E.D. which have a greatly reduced energy usage compared to normal lighting solutions. This includes everything from ceiling lights to the bulbs used in fire exit green man signs.

This even includes the lighting used within our venues on stage. For example we have replaced the UV Cannons in the Copper Rooms with L.E.D. equivalents.

Our old UV Cannons were 400w each. The new L.E.D. lights are 11w each, so quite a difference on our carbon emissions.

Water Usage

Working closely with The University of Warwick Estates Environmental team, we have identified where we can make savings of around 1.5 million litres of water per annum.

All of the urinals within the SU are fitted with water saving devices that ensure they flush on a controlled basis depending how busy the toilets are. Having identified an unusual pattern to the water rates used within the SU, we have identified one of these controls that was flushing far too frequently and this has now been rectified by Estates.

Hot air hand dryers

We have replaced the majority of our older hot air hand dryers with newer, more energy-efficient models. Any dryer that is replaced will reduce our energy consumption by around 300Kwh per year. Once all have been replaced, this will equate to circa 12000 Kwh/year.


Food Policy

  • We will seek to purchase fish from sustainable sources.
  • We will consider welfare standards when sourcing meat.
  • We will aim to use locally-sourced produce where feasible and appropriate, and incorporate seasonal produce into our menus.
  • We will seek to purchase traditional ales from local suppliers.
  • We will communicate the sustainable nature of our food and drink to staff and customers.
  • We only use paper straws.

We are already achieving all of the above policy aims and more.

Food Waste

All of our food waste is collected by, who convert it into biogas via anaerobic digestion (

We use historical sales trends and monitor current business levels to place orders through our suppliers, and all of our food is made to order.

This means the vast majority of our food waste comes from what is left over on the plates from our customers, along with the food preparation itself, the waste coffee grounds from our outlets, and the used orange skins from making fresh juice in our outlets.

We aim to balance the amount of food served in an individual dish so that it is entirely consumed where feasible, to reduce the amount left by the customer. This is obviously a balancing act however, because we still want to ensure our customers receive value for money, and feel like their expectations have been met from whatever food they have ordered.

Waste cooking oil

All of the waste cooking oil from our kitchens is collected by and turned into Biodiesel. In turn, the biodiesel is supplied to large fuel companies so they can meet the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO). This UK requirement means that transport fuel suppliers must ensure a small percentage of all road vehicle fuel is supplied from sustainable or renewable sources. The SU is therefore aiding the government’s initiative to help ensure millions of road users get access to more sustainable road fuels.

Locally Sourced Beers

All of our Real Ale comes from local breweries, the majority within a 30-miles radius of the SU. This is important with regard to the environmental benefits of millage reduction.


Will will ensure that the cleaning materials we use are as environmentally friendly as possible.

All materials used in office refurbishment will be as environmentally friendly as possible.

We only use licensed and appropriate organisations to dispose of waste to ensure it is disposed of legitimately and in a responsible manner.


Warwick Students' Union is committed to reducing its environmental impact and we recognise travel is something that can cause high levels of emissions.

We will avoid unnecessary travel where possible and look to use webinars and teleconferencing instead.

Where travel is not avoidable we encourage sustainable options where it is feasible.

The travel policy for Warwick Students' Union does not allow travel by air for journeys undertaken by staff members on Union business within the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, unless that journey is greater than 400 miles one way.

Where travel by air within the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland is requested as part of a reasonable adjustment to enable a member of staff to fulfil their role, approval for the flight must be given by the Human Resources Director.

Cycle to Work Scheme

Warwick SU are part of the Cyclescheme.

Cyclescheme enables employees to purchase a bicycle tax-free, saving on average about half the cost, on the basis that the bicycle is used for work purposes (at least 50% of the bike’s use should be for work).

For staff members interested in joining the scheme with Warwick SU, further details can be found on Grapevine or via this link via this link.

Carshare through Liftshare

If you travel onto Campus and don't want to cycle, have a think about getting involved with the Carshare scheme operated through Liftshare, drivers can save money, and it's an excellent way to reduce the number of vehicles on the roads. More information can be found here Carshare.

Monitoring and Improvement

Warwick Students Union complies with and where possible aims to exceed all relevant regulatory requirements. We continually monitor environmental performance, looking to improve wherever we can.

We do our best to incorporate environmental factors into all of our organisational decisions and use environmental criteria in any tender decision.

We endeavour to increase employee awareness through training and communication so that environmental consideration becomes second nature within Warwick Students' Union.

Impacts & Aspects

WSU has identified the key aspects of its activities on the environment and grouped them into 4 categories.

These aspects have then been reviewed to identify their impact on the environment and the results tabled below.

Premises – Includes the main aspects of the use of the physical environment of the building in which we are housed.

External environment – Includes the main aspects of our effect on the externally to our premises and the impact on the local neighbourhood and environment.

Suppliers/Vendors – Includes the aspects associated with production and delivery logistics of products supplied and the activities of invited vendors who use our facilities.

Operations – Includes the aspects of our activities that do not fall into any of the above categories.

Ranking information:

High: Is a top priority as impact of successful intervention/efficiency management is very high.

Medium: Is where impact of intervention is less, however legislation, Union policy or University dictate raise its importance.

Low: Is where impact of intervention is negligible however the Union considers it its Social Corporate responsibility to highlight impact on the register and proportion responsibility to reduction of impact however negligible.

Premises External Environment Operations Suppliers Venrors

Green Impact

Green Impact Students’ Union is an accreditation programme for sustainability good-practice in students’ unions. NUS established the scheme in 2006 to tackle common bad environmental practice in students’ unions and to share good practice in the sector.

Warwick SU has been involved in Green Impact through NUS since 2008/9 and has consistently achieved awards at the Good level or higher. We strive year on year to improve our sustainability processes and our environmental impact.

You can learn more about Green Impact here

More information

We work closely with the Warwick University sustainability team where possible, and we follow a number of the University procedures to dispose of equipment such as electrical items.

Click here to visit the Warwick University sustainability pages to see what they are doing, see their policies, find out where you can recycle various things on campus, and stay up to date with campus-wide developments.