Minimising waste

Implementation of Te Taumata Tukuwaro-kore 2022 and associated reduction targets means Waipapa Taumata Rau must meet the requirements of the ISO14064-1:2018 reporting. Under those standards, quantities of waste to landfill, materials recovered for recycling and food waste sent for composting are externally verified each year.

In 2022, the University sent 1352 tonnes of solid waste to landfill for disposal. We recovered 423 tonnes for recycling materials such as paper, cardboard, glass, aluminium, steel, and selected plastics.

From the 2019 baseline year, total waste (t) has decreased by just over 10% and associated emissions by over 72% as a result of gas collection from landfill.
The proportion of waste that is composted or recycled has increased from 24% in 2019 to 28% in 2022, and total waste to landfill has decreased by 252t.

Our waste minimisation story

Since 2007, the University has been monitoring, measuring and reporting internally on landfill wastes and separation for recycling. The University undertakes comprehensive analyses, based on the Ministry for the Environment Solid Waste Analysis Protocol (SWAP). The last one was conducted in 2019 and, after Covid-19 related disruptions, we will next analyse the composition of waste on campus in 2024. We actively use these data to prioritise and design interventions that prevent and minimise waste across all waste streams.


The University requires all of the commercial kitchens that operate on its campuses to minimise their food waste and separate any pre- and post-consumer food waste for composting. The Faculty of Science has integrated into this service, with staff and post-graduate students separating food waste from their kitchens for composting. Similar staff-driven models are in place in staff kitchens and other areas across the University.

In 2022, 114 tonnes of food waste were diverted from landfill and composted as part of this ongoing programme. Since 2019, 395.8 tonnes of food have been diverted.

Reducing waste from events

Events bring people together, drive change, and create meaningful and memorable experiences. Campus Life worked with the Sustainability Office to create the Sustainable Events Guide, based on best practices outlined in ISO 20121 Standard for Event Sustainability Management Systems.

The free guide uses the commit, plan, implement, and assess framework, focused on committing to limiting energy and resource use, reducing waste at the source, hosting waste-free events, choosing sustainable catering options, and supporting sustainable commuting.

Since the University’s Sustainable Events Guide was introduced in 2019, over 500 event organisers have used this guide to implement sustainability initiatives in more than 1,100 events across the University.

Saving paper

In 2022, the University used 20,119 reams of paper, compared to 68,358 reams in 2019 and 122,576 reams in 2010.

While we began monitoring paper use relatively recently compared to energy and water, we have also reduced the total amount of paper we use. We have done so by switching from hard copies of course materials and lecture notes to online ones, by reducing printing and by increasing double-sided printing.

In 2019, we also implemented a managed printing system called Follow Me Printing. Since then, we have stopped over 5.5 million pages being released from printers. 

What you can do

  • Think carefully about any purchases you feel compelled to make, and avoid unnecessary consumption
  • Choose products that are more durable, and have fewer environmental impacts
  • Avoid replacing products that are still functional
  • Repair, rather than replace, repairable items
  • Find new homes for used furniture by letting staff and students know they are available
  • Donate leftover stationary items to your local kindergarten
  • Use the Sustainable Events Guide and associated checklist to help make your next event more sustainable 
  • Separate cardboard and paper for recycling
  • Recycle toner cartridges