Collecting unwanted items during Covid-19
For many years, at the end of the summer term, we would welcome our local community volunteers onto campus to help the RAWKUS Project collect food surplus and other items that were no longer needed from campus accommodation. This year, the challenges of Covid-19 meant we had to adapt our usual approach to ensure surplus items did not go to waste.
We rose to the challenge and had tremendous success after colleagues from numerous teams at the University stepped up. In total, we were able to donate around 100m³ of products – more than double the size of donations from previous years.
Key workers from the Waste and Recycling team, Cleaning Services and Emmaus charity worked throughout the lockdown to separate, collect, and donate thousands of pots, pans, clothes, stationery and electrical items left behind in bedrooms and kitchens. Non-perishable food was also removed and donated to Coventry food banks, while bed linen has been given to another local charity.
Thanks to their amazing combined efforts, close to a hundred tonnes of waste has been saved. The partnership with Emmaus meant the charity could take surplus items in good condition – reducing unnecessary waste and helping Warwick to support local people in need.
Mathilde Robert, Waste Services Manager at the University, talks of the circular economy and waste hierarchy that informed this project:
"As part of the Waste and Resource Strategy, we want to reduce waste, reuse items and develop circular economy. Working with Emmaus is giving items a second life and people a second chance in life."
Emmaus Coventry and Warwickshire have a local shop in Coventry, selling donated items to be able to offer support to formerly homeless people and those at risk of homelessness.
Emmaus offers homeless people a fresh start in life with the support of the community around them.
You can find more about the charity on their website.
Pay as You Feel market
As part of the partnership with Emmaus; RAWKUS, the Waste and Recycling team, Welcome team and Sustainability team organised the second annual Pay as You Feel market, which ran during the Arrivals period, when students moved into their accommodation for the new academic year. Second-hand items, including some of those collected at the end of the previous term, were made available, with patrons encouraged to make a donation as they thought was appropriate.
Five-hundred people visited over five days to pick up kitchen and bedroom essentials for their new homes.
A grand total of £1,886.80 has been raised to support the fantastic work of Emmaus. The items that didn't sell during the event have been donated to be sold at the Emmaus shop in Coventry.
David Chapman, Sustainability Champion, said:
"The University of Warwick has been working to reduce its emissions and improve the overall sustainability of our activities and those of our students. It is fantastic to see this project, originally started by students a few years ago, develop into something that has now been integrated into the yearly routine of the University.
We all have a part to play in making our local area and the wider world a better place. Warwick's Sustainability Team look forward to working with groups and individuals on and off campus in initiatives such as this and Green Week (taking place March 2021) in the coming months and years.”
We plan to continue with projects like these, building on our climate emergency declaration just over a year ago.
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