Sustainable return to campus

Published 10 December 2021

As a University we have made significant progress towards creating a sustainable future for all.

The pandemic has presented an opportunity for a fresh start and to continue with good behaviours (such as reduced plastics, paper usage and hybrid-style working practices etc) while leaving some less sustainable behaviours behind.

As a University community, we must all take responsibility for this and work collaboratively to ensure that our University continues to demonstrate the highest levels of sustainability practice.

We have provided some guidelines below for a sustainable return to campus, which link to our Seven Climate Principles, our Single Use Plastics pledge and our commitment to embed the UN Sustainable Development Goals into everything we do.

This page will be updated with further information and links to support when these become available.

Sustainable principles for campus return

Single-Use Plastic Free

In partnership with LUU, we have pledged to be single-use plastic free by 2023 across all of our operations, research and teaching. You must avoid the purchase and use of single use plastics when returning to campus where possible. Find more information on our plastics pledge and how you can help reduce your plastics usage including a handy toolkit. Don’t forget to bring back your re-usable Keepcup, water bottle and containers to use while you’re on campus.

Paper-free office

Over the last 18 months many colleagues have not had access to printing facilities and have adapted to electronic storage and sharing of documents. When you start to work on campus again, please continue to adopt a paper-free approach to working practices as the norm, making use of the various collaboration and sharing services such as MS Teams and Sharepoint.

Reducing our energy and carbon

Be mindful of the energy you are consuming on campus. This means remembering to shut down equipment when not in use (especially shared equipment), switching off lights and closing windows at the end of the day. Please note that each building/area will have specific ventilation requirements associated with covid-safe measures that must be adhered to, which may rely on windows being open when rooms are in use. Please make sure that you are aware of the requirements for the area you’re working in.

Sustainable consumption

Try to reduce your consumption of office consumables, stationery and equipment as much as possible. This means only using what you need, sharing and seeking to re-use items rather than buying new. Find out how to use the Reuse system to share your unwanted items or find a re-usable item

Waste and recycling

We expect that many of you will be de-cluttering your previous spaces. Please follow the guidance provided for your area related to waste, recycling and re-use. Find more information on recycling on campus and please use the Reuse system to share your unwanted items or find a re-usable item

Sustainable Labs

Laboratory activity consumes around five to 10 times more energy per square metre than typical academic spaces. There’s a real need and opportunity to tackle this and reduce the negative environmental effects of laboratories on campus and beyond. See our sustainable labs pages for further information and how to get involved. Contact the team to join the Sustainable Labs network to share best practice and ideas.

Environmental Management System (EMS)

We must do everything we can to protect the environment. Please make sure that you follow the policies and procedures listed with the University Environmental Management System. Further training on the EMS is available on Minerva.

Get involved!

Find out about what sustainability initiatives may be going on in your school or service. There may be a Blueprint sustainability action plan in progress, or you may have a Staff Sustainability Architect working on initiatives in your area. Find out how you can get more involved in sustainability initiatives


We support staff and students to travel to and from campus sustainably. Please see our commuter travel pages and our sustainable travel pages for further information. For staff business travel, all travel must be booked through our Key Travel service. Please see the latest guidelines on our staff travel pages

Rediscovering campus

Many people may have missed the vibrancy and beauty of the University campus. If you are returning to campus, why not take the opportunity to have a wander around, check out the many green spaces on campus and associated wildlife, the many public art features and don’t forget to stop off for a coffee using your Keepcup at one of our fabulous cafes. Why not try a walking or outside meeting with colleagues if the weather allows.

For further support and advice and other ways to get involved in sustainability activity, please see the Sustainability website