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Recycling and waste

At Brunel we constantly review the waste we generate in an effort to continuously improve our recycling capabilities and reduce our negative impact on the environment. 

Over the past 5 years the University has taken a firm approach to strengthen its waste management processes with the aim to increase its recycling output. As a result, Brunel can boast that 98% of its waste it diverted from landfill and 47% of its total waste mass is recycled (as of 2019/20). 

To accommodate the University’s ethos of continuous improvement, new objectives and targets have been set within BUL's Waste Management Plan 2022-25 (.pdf download) with the aim to acheive a 60% recycling percentage by 2025.  

The Site Services Department continues to introduce recycling initiatives, some example initiatives are presented below.

Waste Hierarchy Guidance

The waste hierarchy ranks waste management options according to what is best for the environment.  It gives priority to preparing it for re-use, then recycling, then recovery, and last of all disposal.  

This guidance is for any business or public body which generates, handles or treats waste and is produced under regulation 15(1) of the Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2011 and any person subject to this regulation must have regard to it.

Further information regarding the waste hierarchy can be found here

Halls waste

Recognising that a majority of the University’s municipal waste is generated in our Halls of Residence and that this is where a majority of the contaminations occur, we have introduced a team of operatives that collect, analyse and segregate each halls kitchen waste. The benefits of this are:

  • quality: by identifying contaminations before they are mixed with a larger load, we are able to safeguard a large portion of recycling and therefore recycle more
  • financial: allows us to identify contaminated waste streams early, before they reach the waste service provider, enabling us to avoid contamination charges
  • engagement: students are able to speak with the Halls Waste Team directly to gain feedback on their recycling and waste segregating performance

Disposable coffee cup recycling points

Disposable coffee cup recycling points have been deployed in academic, administrative and catering areas to encourage people to recycle their cups rather than placing them in the wrong waste stream. The cups captured through this stream are recycled into various products, such as benches and reusable cups, therefore allowing us to contribute towards a Circular Economy.

Mattress, duvet and pillow recycling 

Each year hundreds of used mattresses, duvets and pillows require disposal. We send duvets and pillows to local dog homes and homeless shelters when required.  The remainder is sent to an Energy from Waste plant to be incinerated to produce energy.

British Heart Foundation

British Heart Foundation have positioned several banks across campus which allow people to deposit their unwanted clothes so that they can be reused or recycled.

Battery recycling points 

Battery recycling points have been introduced across campus which allow anyone who visits the University to deposit their spent batteries, either from work or at home, to divert them from the general waste stream into the WEEE stream where they belong. We send around 40 tonnes of used batteries to be recycled each year.

Food waste collections 

Food waste is one of the heaviest forms of waste that can be found in a general waste bin. Extracting this valuable organic waste from the general waste stream reduces the overall weight of the general waste stream, which saves money and allows us to recover the potential of the material through anaerobic/aerobic digestion. Food waste is collected from the following locations on campus:

  • staff kitchens
  • residential kitchens
  • catering outlets

On average we are sending 41 tonnes of food waste to an anaerobic digester each year.

 Confidential waste, paper and cardboard

Paper type items including confidential and non-confidential papers are disposed of in two ways using confidential waste bins or waste sacks for non-confidential paper. All papers are shredded and then recycled into tissue products.

Cardboard is collected, baled and removed from campus for recycling.

Storage device destruction

Old flash drives and hard drives are stored in a storage device destruction bin which are destroyed on site prior to removal.

Electrical items including IT and hard drives 

All data is removed and some items will be passed to a charity or Computer Aid for reuse whilst others will be recycled to near 100%.


Large bins are provided within the Hamilton yard and the glass is then collected by our waste service provider.


We have recently supported an excellent student project.  In the first four months alone of this project over 600 vapes were collected from dedicated vape recycling bins around campus.  Any batteries collected from these are disposed of with battery waste. 

Green Tips

Don’t throw away your unwanted stuff – use Freecycle. You can reduce waste by offering your unwanted items free and it’s also a good opportunity to pick up others’ unwanted items for free. Type 'Hillingdon' or the name of your local town.