A face against a blackboard with question marks

Please see the FAQs below but if they do not address any questions you may have, please contact recycling@imperial.ac.uk


Can I make my own arrangements to dispose of waste?

If you WISH TO make your own arrangements to dispose of any waste, please notify the Waste and Recycling manager beforehand

Details of waste management licences and permits must be obtained.

A Duty of Care visit must be arranged. The Waste Manager will accompany you. This entails visiting the locations where the company operates; gathering information about their operations and procedures and observing how these are carried out with particular emphasis on disposal, reprocessing and health and safety.

Disposal of hazardous waste (eg fridges, freezers, monitors, clinical waste), data bearing items (eg PCs, photocopiers) must be placed via the College route.

If, following teh Duty of Care visit, we are satisfied with the contractor, please ensure that all Waste Transfer Notes are sent to recycling@imperial.ac.uk.

We are obliged to hold Waste Transfer Notes for a period of 2 years so it is important that these are collated.

Aside from the legal requirement, Waste Transfer Notes are very important:

  • They record where the College has disposed of its waste and enable us to track whether it was reused, recycled, recovered or disposed of.
  • This information helps us to manage our waste effectively, and calculate our Carbon Emissions; the data is also required for HEFCE and the People and Planet Green League.

Can I recycle food waste?

This happens already!

Food waste from South Kensington’s main catering outlets is collected and taken to a food storage tank called a Rothenburg Unit. This macerates all of the food waste put inside it so that it becomes liquid. Once full the tank is emptied by a tanker vehicle and the liquid is taken to an anaerobic digestion plant where energy is recovered.

It is unlikely that we will pursue food collections from other areas because the volumes are actually relatively small; the benefit gained from disposing of this food in a better way would be negated by the number of plastic bags required to facilitate its collection.

  •     Find out more about food waste composting at the College
  •     Find out about the process for residential food waste disposal

How can I improve the way I recycle?

Wash - Squash - Think!

  • Scrape any food remains/pour away excess liquid
  • Rinse food containers (no need to wash thoroughly)
  •     Crush metal cans and plastic bottles to save space and make collections more energy efficient
  • Buy recycled products; there is little point to sending items to be recycled if we do not create a market for recycled materials. Always be sure to buy recycled paper; especially for the printer or copier

Consider whether your waste could be recycled; if it is made of a single material (or materials that could easily be separated) then you should probably be recycling it

What about lids and labels?

Glass bottles & jars
  • There is no need to remove labels from glass jars and bottles.
  • Lids are best removed.
  • The College sends glass directly to be used as glassphalt (a material which is used in road building) so it is important that it is not contaminated with other materials.
  • At home, you may find your glass is recycled into glass; in this case, it helps if lids are removed but is not essential as, during the recycling process, the items are washed and non-glass objects are removed after crushing
Plastic bottles
  • Removing the caps and lids from plastic containers is more important as they are often made from a mix of polymer types (unlike the container itself which will just be made from 1 type)
  • Being screwed together, the 2 materials are not easily separated during the recycling process so it helps if you can separate them to begin with.

Do I have to remove staples and paper clips

  • Bull dog clips and paper clips should be removed where possible but there is no need to remove staples.

Do window envelopes have to be removed?

  • This is not necessary; they will be removed in the pulping process.
  • Some window envelopes have Glassine (cellulose) windows which are made from wood fibres; they dissolve completely in the recycling process and are therefore preferable.

Can I recycle food soiled paper and card?

  • Paper fibres cannot be recycled if they are contaminated with food; separate and recycle the clean paper and card. Paper and card contaminated with food should be disposed of as general waste as it cannot be recycled.

Why can’t I recycle tissues and serviettes?

  • The short fibres in tissues make them unsuitable for recycling; and food often contaminates them. Using recycled serviettes/tissues helps create a market for recycled material.

Quick links

  • Take a look at the waste directory to be aware of items which either MUST be recycled or have additional legislation to ensure they are disposed of appropriately
  • The waste directory has tips for some specific items such as batteries

How do I request new bins?

Please request recycling bins from IAN DAVISON

A member of the recycling team will contact you to discuss your requirements.

Due to limited storage space we do not hold bins in stock; orders are placed approximately twice a term.

General waste bins can be provided alongside your recycling bins.

Personal waste paper baskets

The College is in the process of adopting the Bin the bin scheme as have other large organisations and universities.

Upgrading recycling facilities and removing desk bins achieves many positive objectives such as improving the quality and quantity of recycling, minimising the number of desk bin liners thrown away and driving down costs, including landfill and cleaning costs

Find out more about Bin the bin

I am having a clear out, how should I manage the waste?

Clearing out or moving on?

Take a look at the 10-point plan (pdf, opens in new window)

  • It is designed to remind you of the waste you may need to deal with
  • It suggests an order in which to tackle these to save you money.

What can I do with unwanted items that could be reused?

Use WARPit

The College has joined WARPit (Waste Action Reuse Portal), a redistribution network, which works in a similar way to Ebay or Freecycle but for organisations rather than individuals.

WARPit makes it easy for departments to give away, loan or claim items unwanted by others within the organisation and beyond.

The scheme encourages reuse, saves money and carbon.

Items which can currently be reused include furniture, stationery and unused printer cartridges. It is not possible at present to offer electrical items on WARPit.

Dispose of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE)

Register now

It only takes a moment to register - Watch this clip to see a demonstration

If you already have a log in go to https://www.warp-it.co.uk/login

Why use WARP-IT?

  • Reduce waste disposal costs
    WARPit finds new owners for resources /goods/ equipment inside the College or within partner organisations.
  • Reduce purchasing costs
    The new owner of the transferred resource does not have to purchase new equipment.
  • Increase recycling and reuse
    If the equipment or resource is to be scrapped WARPit acts as a waste management system, diverting to recycling or refurbishment.
  • Reduce carbon emissions
    The new owner does not need to purchase new items, and so reduces emissions associated with manufacture and transport.
  • Easy participation
    Because the system is so easy to use, it maximises the chance of bringing the unused into use. WARPit features a user friendly intuitive interface and encourages everyone to be part of the solution by developing community networks.
  • Wide appeal
    WARPit allows items to be reused by advertising locally and nationally via the WARPit club feature.
  • Easy photo upload
    It is important to upload images to give a good idea of the resource being offered. Uploading photos is easy. If you do not have a camera pick an image from our database which is the best match.

What else can we do?

What we're doing

Composting food waste in halls of residence

We have food waste recycling in all our student halls of residences, giving students the opportunity to divert even more of their potential waste away from landfill and contribute help the College achieve their targets

How you can help

We’re making good ongoing progress regarding the reuse and recycling of waste but we do need everyone’s assistance and contribution to ensure we reach our recycling targets.

We can put facilities in place but we need your help to ensure that the waste routes are used.

What happens to our recycling?

All recycling is put to good use

  • This prevents needless use of landfill sites or incineration
  • This helps to protect and improve the environment

The College’s recycling is sent to a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) where it is separated by trommels, magnets, infrared sensors and jets of air. Where additional bins are provided, we aim to segregate glass and paper & card separately. These are sent directly to an aggregate firm and paper mill so additional sorting , transportation and energy use are avoided.

Each material is then collected from the Facility and sent to the appropriate plant for processing.

Recycled materials are used in different ways

  • Paper is often used to make newsprint for daily newspapers. Higher quality paper can be used as office paper and for publications
  • Cardboard is mulched and remade back into cardboard packaging for businesses to use again
  • Mixed glass recycling is used as glasphalt, an aggregate for road surfacing projects. City of Westminster uses glasphalt for their own road resurfacing projects
  • Aluminium cans are sorted and reprocessed. Magnets separate steel from aluminium.  After being crushed, shredded, heated and melted, pure aluminium is sent to can manufacturers who produce new cans.
  • Food tins made from steel are melted down to make new steel products. These can be anything from more tins, domestic appliances to yacht hulls and steel girders
  • Plastics are generally recycled into products such as storage boxes, bins, fencing and drainpipes. Some more specialised products made from recycled plastic include 'eco-fleece' clothing and recycled stationery eg pencils.

What is the waste hierarchy?

The College has a legal responsibility to pre-sort all waste and dispose of it ethically.

The Waste Hierarchy
  • Reuse over recycling
  • Recycling over incineration
  • Incineration over landfill

It is vital that we recycle whenever we can and move waste as far up the hierarchy as possible.

By rationalising the waste routes across the College we can obtain favourable rates and also ensure that our achievements are recorded and reported.

Reuse and recycling has a significant impact in reducing CO2 emissions!

Why should we recycle?

It is a legal obligation

There are a number of reasons and benefits but, quite simply, it isn’t a choice.
The College is obliged to pre-sort its waste prior to disposal in the same way as any other commercial organisation.

Recycling reduces incineration and landfill
  • When we recycle the amount of rubbish sent to incineration sites reduces. This reduces the carbon footprint of the College. 
  • Most of Britain’s waste is sent for incineration or landfill. Because more and more waste is being produced we need to consider how to make the most out of our waste.
  • Landfill is damaging to the environment and space is running out. Incineration with energy recovery is useful but, is burning our waste a good solution? Once we have burnt the material we no longer have the commodity and need to replace it with fresh materials. In most cases this is not going to be as environmentally friendly as recycling and using recycled material.
  • The amount of rubbish we produce is increasing for many reasons, eg an increasing population, increasing affluence leading to greater consumption, increased packaging and lifestyle changes and a greater reliance on convenience food.
  • Today's waste compared to pre-1960s contains more products that don't break down when put in the ground. Packaging waste makes up about a quarter of all waste, most of which could be recycled.
Recycling conserves resources
  • When we recycle, used materials are converted into new products, reducing the need to consume further natural resources.
  • Recycling helps conserve important raw materials and protects natural habitats.
Recycling saves energy and protects the environment
  • Using recycled materials in the manufacturing process uses considerably less energy than that required for producing new products from raw materials.
  • More energy is required to extract, refine, transport and process raw materials ready for industry compared with providing industry-ready materials.
  • Recycling saves energy, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and helps to tackle climate change.