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Waste Education

25 September 2023

Learn how UC is supporting our community to reduce waste through education, research, and practical activities.


Waste sustainability is a global challenge that intersects with various disciplines including science, engineering, education, and marketing. While recycling often takes the spotlight in conversations about waste, it's crucial to recognise that it's just one piece of a much larger puzzle.

In 2021, New Zealanders alone sent an average of 700 kilograms to landfill per person. This staggering statistic underscores the urgency of waste education.

At UC, we're committed to tackling waste in all its forms. We focus on diverting rubbish from landfills, reducing food waste, minimizing single-use plastic packaging, promoting circular economies and supporting community initiatives such as repair cafes and clothes swaps. For our waste awareness campaign this May, we shared our researchers’ valuable insight and held events and activations for staff and students on campus.

Waste education news

Waste education events

Let’s talk waste – with Ethically Kate

UC staff, students and people from the wider Ōtautahi community joined us to hear from Kate Hall (Ethically Kate), who shared useful tips to reduce waste:

  • Treat your stuff with respect – be conscious about the stuff you let into your home, think about the responsibility of using, repairing, storing, and cleaning that each item of stuff holds. 

  • Refuse and reuse over recycle – before you buy something that is “recyclable”, think about what you already have and whether you actually need it. Consider that only 9% of recyclable items have ever been recycled. 

  • Compost – food waste is a precious resource can be turned into lush soil that can grow more food. Don’t have access to a compost heap? Connect with your friends and neighbours to create a community compost! 

Bin it to Win it! 

Staff and students had the opportunity to test their knowledge of the new Aotearoa New Zealand-wide kerbside recycling standards, play a waste sorting game, chat with waste experts, and go in the draw to win prizes thanks to an on-campus activation with Christchurch City Council.  Key learnings included the recent changes to the waste system, and some common myths were busted in the waste sorting game including where to place:

  • Lids

  • Bamboo cutlery 

  • Bags marked ‘compostable’ 

  • Coffee cups 

  • Alternative milk/juice cartons 

  • Fabric bags 

All of which now need to be placed in landfill. 

Alternative waste diversion schemes were also a very popular discussion point among staff and students, showing an enthusiasm from our community to avoid sending items to landfill when possible. 


The Clothes Swap

Over 100 UC students and staff came together to swap their clothing, bringing a few items of clothing, and taking home some "new" pieces for free. Warm clothing was in high demand, which has since sparked a staff clothing donation drive "winter woolies" which will help keep our ākonga (students) warm this winter.


Repair Cafe 

Our Repair Cafe event helped to support and promote the Ōtautahi Repair Revolution - a movement away from throwaway culture and promoting product stewardship through the art and practice of repair.

Over 60 UC students and staff joined us at UC Library's Te Rua Makerspace with their broken treasures, ready to breathe new life into them.

During the 2-hour workshop almost 30kg of items were repaired and diverted from landfill, and 317kg of CO₂ saved - that’s like growing 5 tree seedlings for 10 years*. The most popular items bought in for repair were shoes, bags and winter clothing.

We intend to hold a repair cafe style event each term to give more people opportunities to learn and enjoy repair skills.

*Measured with Restarters.

clothes swap
repair cafe 2024
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