A person in overalls cleaning up the sea

our commitment to the planet

Explore the environmental policies and sustainable procedures we have in place, and discover how they're making a real impact

The future of our planet is in everyone's hands, and we're all we can to help.

We're aiming for sustainability across all our activities and working towards a low-carbon future. We're continually improving our sustainability practices, so we can minimise our impact on the environment.

We encourage all members of our community to live, think and work with sustainability in mind, and make positive changes by using less energy and water, reducing waste and choosing sustainable travel options.

Our sustainability approach

Our Energy and Environment Team oversee our sustainability and environmental policies, plans and objectives.

We're certified to the international standard for environmental management systems, ISO 14001:2015, and have developed an institution-wide plan to achieve a sufficient level for monitoring and controlling our environmental impacts.

We're aiming to:

  • Reduce single-use plastics
  • Increase our recycling rate from 70% to 75% by 1 August 2021
  • Achieve 'Outstanding' ratings for our new buildings projects
  • Increase sustainable travel opportunities 
  • Reduce overuse of air conditioning
  • Install energy efficient LED lighting with movement and daylight sensors in new and refurbished buildings
  • Reduce water wastage

You can read more about our sustainability approach in our Environmental Policy, and see the latest results of our work in our Environmental Performance report.

Sustainability and environmental research

Through our interdisciplinary and applied research, we're finding innovative and sustainable solutions to major issues threatening the future of our planet, and the health of our environment.

Our sustainability and environmental research is already making a positive impact. Our researchers have developed a plastic-eating mutant enzyme that could help solve the plastic pollution crisis, by breaking down plastic in days, not years. We're also delivering research that's tackling the vital issues that are already shaping the future, from climate change and to low-carbon design.

Visit our research pages to find out more about the work we're doing.

Carbon and energy management

Since 2009, we've reduced our carbon emissions by 40%, and we've achieved this through reducing our electricity, gas, water and fuel usage, and improving our waste disposal. We're continuing to pursue all opportunities to reduce our emissions and minimise our impact towards climate change.

All our electricity is sourced from renewable supplies, we continue to install LED lighting solutions across our campus and taken greater control of how we heat our buildings. Helping us to reduce our emissions and continue to work towards our goal of becoming carbon neutral. 

Other sustainability initiatives include:

  • Fitting lighting movement sensors in corridors, classrooms and offices
  • Closely controlling heating provision
  • Upgrading our heating boilers and electrical heaters
  • Insulating plant room equipment
Carbon and energy management graph showing a reduction in the University of Portsmouth emissions by 40%

Carbon and energy management graph showing a reduction in the University of Portsmouth emissions by 40%.

Throughout the year, we manage and monitor the environmental impact of our estate through our environmental management system.

Our Estates Masterplan has been designed to achieve our ambition of receiving the BREEAM ‘Outstanding’ rating. BREEAM is a long-established rating system which certifies the sustainability of our buildings.

Recycling and waste management

Between 2011 and 2018, we increased our recycling rate from 40% to over 70%.

Bar chart demonstrating the increase in recycling at the University of Portsmouth from 40% in 2011, to 73% in 2018.

Bar chart demonstrating the increase in recycling at the University of Portsmouth from 40% in 2011, to 73% in 2018.

Our recycling programme saves valuable materials from going to landfill and any non-recyclable waste is processed in an energy recovery facility to create electricity.

We monitor our waste at the university through microchip technology. Our wheelie bins are tagged, enabling us to collect data on the volume of waste and how often these are being emptied. Through this process we can calculate our recycling rates, as seen in the graph above.

The more we recycle, the more money we save, and the less of an impact we have on our environment.

What happens to waste once it's collected?

We ensure that all our waste is disposed of safely.

As part of our recycling programme at Portsmouth, we have installed separate bins for recycling, food, liquids and batteries. Any non-recyclable items are extracted by our contractor, Suez. Our waste material is sorted and processed via their materials recycling facility near Bristol.

The separated waste is then managed by different means. Food waste is anaerobically digested, while general waste (recycling contaminated with food or liquid) go to a waste-to-energy plant.

Sustainable catering

We consider the social and environmental impact of our product selection processes, and our catering services source and encourage sustainable food production, through the following guidelines.

Our house rules

We set a high-standard for ourselves and our suppliers. We ensure the following standards are met for all areas of food production at the University of Portsmouth:

  • We always have, and always will use, free range eggs and meat
  • All our milk is organic and local
  • Because we buy locally, we're members of Hampshire Fare
  • We only use sustainable fish from the MSC list
  • We don't waste food
  • We work with local, smaller suppliers to reduce our carbon footprint
  • We give customers discounts if they use their own cups when buying hot drinks
  • We are massively cutting down on single use plastic utensils

We're also reducing our reliance on single-use plastics by:

  • ‌Using glass milk bottles to save nearly 13,000 milk sachets a year
  • Using bamboo cutlery to save 10,000 and 15,000 plastic cutlery a year
  • Using eco-friendly corn starch cups to save nearly 60,000 plastic cups a year
  • Using large milk dispensers within University coffee shops instead of sachets
  • Trialling sugar cane platters and plates
  • Removal of plastic straws
  • Introduction of canned water sold in University catering outlets

Food waste

Our food wastage is currently less than 2%.

We donate leftover food to Portsmouth Food Cycle, who cook and serve free hot meals to members of the local community. Food recycling bins are available around campus and are disposed of by our approved contractors.

We also avoid wastage by circulating products within our catering outlets across campus so that they are purchased and consumed before they go out of date.

Reduce Catering's Carbon footprint

We're part of the Public Sector Procurement of Local Food Project – a scheme which increases the number of local farmers and producers supplying the public sector. This encourages diversity and local business growth and reduces delivery frequency, lowering carbon emissions.

Bring your own mug

We encourage staff and students to participate in helping us to reduce waste. We offer 20p off a cup of tea, coffee or hot chocolate when you use your own cup at one of our catering outlets. When booking catering for meetings, our staff can choose a 'cups free' option, reducing costs to both the customer and the environment.

Canned water

We stock Life Water in our cafes and eateries, which funds clean water projects across the globe to help alleviate the world water crisis.

Environmental catering awards

Our awards include:

The Catering Mark is independent endorsement that we are improving the food we serve. We are using fresh ingredients which are free from trans fats, harmful additives, GM and better for animal welfare. Caterers are audited to ensure they meet high standards of provenance. This award reassures customers that meals are freshly prepared using sustainable and seasonal ingredients.

This independent sustainability-rating system recognises restaurants as one, two or three star sustainability champions depending on how they rate against a wide range of criteria.

For the sole use of free range chickens and eggs, organic dairy products and welfare pigs.

The Good Dairy Award recognises companies that use or are committing (within 5 years) to use higher welfare dairy systems for cows and calves.

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