University of St Andrews scheme aims to cut single-use plastics

Professor Sally Mapstone and Gemma McNicoll Brown.
Professor Sally Mapstone and Gemma McNicoll Brown.

A new University of St Andrews initiative is aiming to tackle single-use plastics.

More than 40,000 plastic bottles will be removed from circulation annually from the local community thanks to a pioneering green bottling scheme led by the university.

In partnership with BRITA, the world’s leading water filter and dispenser company, the university has installed a glass bottling system to provide bottled water for the delivered catering across the campus.

This would reduce the reliance on single-use plastic bottled water by 19,000 units annually.

In addition, BRITA has installed self-service still and sparkling water dispensing units in its three retail cafés for staff and students.

This will save an estimated additional 21,000 single-use plastic bottles of water.

The installation of the BRITA Vivreau’s Table Water Bottling Systems dispenser will allow for glass bottling of unlimited quantities of pure, chilled still and sparkling water.

This eliminates the need to purchase environmentally unfriendly and expensive pre-bottled waters.

The water bottling system substantially reduces the cost of purchasing single-use, pre-bottled waters and also eliminates the need to transport and store bottled water.

Gemma McNicoll-Brown, event operations delivered catering assistant manager, said: “Sustainability is a key element in the university’s new Strategic Plan.

“We strive to work with businesses whose principles and commitments to the environment and sustainability align with our own.

“Our new partnership with BRITA is the first in many new green initiatives we will be implementing across the university to play our part in a greener future.

“The elimination of single-use plastic bottles of water is our first step towards making a cleaner, greener and sustainable future for staff, students and the local community.”

The university has a long-term goal to have zero food waste to land fill and is currently in the process of installing its own composter on site.

Additional green initiatives undertaken by the university include the move to replace disposable products to recyclable and/or compostable alternatives where possible within retail outlets and delivered catering.

St Andrews Environmental Network has also recently launched a new single-use plastic project, aimed at making the town the first single-use plastic free town in Scotland.

It was estimated that around 250 people attended the launch.