Minimising waste

Since 2007, the University has been monitoring, measuring and reporting internally on landfill wastes, and separation for recycling. Large scale, comprehensive audits are undertaken every 2-3 years to provide insights on the composition of the wastes, including food waste. The data are used to prioritise and design interventions to minimise waste to landfill. 

In 2019, the University generated sent 16,471 cubic metres of solid waste to landfill for disposal, or 0.52 cubic metres per full-time equivalent student. We recovered for recycling 11,640 cubic metres of materials such as paper, cardboard, glass, aluminium, steel, and selected plastics. Recovery for recycling has more than tripled since monitoring began in 2008.


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 is integrated into this service, with staff and post-graduate students separating food waste from their kitchens for composting. A similar model is being trialled or rolled out in other faculties. Since it started in 2016, this initiative has diverted 293 tonnes of food waste from landfill. In 2017 the initiative won the Vice-Chancellor’s Excellence Award for Environmental Sustainability. The project includes no waste zones in student residence dining halls.

Reducing event waste

In 2019, the University co-hosted NZ’s second national Sustainable Development Goals Summit. The Summit was held on the University’s City Campus, and organised and managed largely by the University’s Sustainability Office and Events Management team. The Summit was used to demonstrate full application of the  University’s Sustainable Events Guide.

This included working closely with catering providers to use locally sourced, plant-based vegetarian and vegan food, and minimising food waste. Only 69g of clean, pre-consumer food waste was generated per delegate. This included 28g per delegate of pre-event, preparation food waste. For the first time at a large University event, 100% of food waste sources were identified and accounted for. As a result, 43% of the food waste, which was post-preparation and pre-consumer, was diverted from the waste stream by charitable distribution (57g per delegate). The remaining 57% was was recovered for composting and there was zero food waste to landfill.

What you can do

  • Think carefully about any purchases you feel compelled to make, and avoid unecessary consumption
  • Choose products that are more durable, have recyclable or compostable packaging, 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