Our sustainability initiatives

The Sustainability Network has several projects that are up and running. Find out more about what we do.

A turtle made out of pieces of multi-coloured recycled plastic.

Sustainable laboratories

Our mission is to educate lab managers, student researchers, lab users, staff and academics to be more sustainable in their lab practices. We provide tools and resources to help implement sustainable practices and reduce waste within research laboratories. We aim to reduce waste, power and water usage, and encourage eco-friendly alternatives within lab spaces at the University of Auckland.


  • Established a working group including staff from Environment, Psychology, Chemical Science, Computer Science, Physics, and Biological Sciences.
  • Implemented sustainable lab logos, progress beakers, and sticky labels to assist with lab audits.
  • School of Psychology: The EEG lab has incorporated e-waste recycling of caps and computer materials, installed a re-usable towel cloth system for experiments, eliminated the use of DVDs for data storage, installed eco-friendly products for washing, reduced water use and begun recycling all plastic matter. The lab is also investigating the use of plants to recycle the water produced from the condensing dryer.
  • School of Environment: The school is working towards green lab audits, recycling of green waste matter, and glass recycling.
  • School of Biological Sciences: The school has replaced plastic tip boxes with an eco-friendly alternative, reduced the use of water in experiments, reduced single-use plastic waste through bulk purchasing, and displayed eco-tips in breakout spaces.
  • School of Chemical Sciences: The school is working towards lab audits, dry ice box recycling and composting.
  • Department of Physics: The department has installed compost bins and is working towards sustainability in teaching labs.

Sustainable purchasing

The Sustainable Purchasing group is developing a business case to engage decision-makers at the University in the practice of sustainable purchasing. To ensure that the University's Procurement Policy priorities environmental measures. 

We are collaborating with the Sustainable Labs Group and Group Service Leaders to help large suppliers provide more environmentally friendly options. This includes identifying practical ways of enabling environment-conscious purchasing choices and finding alternatives to excess/non-recyclable packaging.

The group is also looking at environmental choice in the wider workplace. Including the use of recycled paper, fair trade coffee, biodegradable or re-usable items for events, and better recycling options for polystyrene, packaging material, paper, food waste, and e-waste.

Waste project

In 2017, a waste project was conducted throughout the Science Centre. The project involved four key elements: mapping the location of bins throughout Buildings 301, 302, 303; a waste audit; a review of the Faculty of Science Compost Project; a survey of staff and graduate students; and a brief investigation of the waste systems at other New Zealand universities.


All bins within the Science Centre are correctly labelled to ensure compost, recycling, paper recycling, and landfill waste is separated at the collection point, and all staff break rooms have compost bins.

Teaching case study: Global clothing industry

This interdisciplinary teaching study focused on the challenges of the global clothing industry.

The School of Psychology, the School of Chemical Sciences and the Department of Sociology joined forces to examine the environmental and societal impacts of mass-produced clothes, as well as how chemistry interacts with clothing and how the industry can be made greener and more sustainable.

Watch the video