Our commitment to reducing single-use drinks cups on campus
Our University is introducing a trial 20p levy on single-use drinks cups next week during Sustainability Week, in a bid to reduce the number thrown away on campus and raise awareness of the impact they have on the environment.
In the UK only one per cent of 2.5 billion single use coffee cups are recycled and our University alone sells almost a million hot drinks in its outlets every year - the majority of them in single-use cups.
To coincide with the launch of our first sustainability strategy 15-19 October 2018, we are encouraing students and staff to use their own reusable cups or join Campus Cups, the University’s reusable cup deposit scheme. We will still be giving a 20p discount for using your own cup or Campus Cup, so there will now be a 40p difference between a takeaway drink in a reusable compared to a single-use cup. The levy will only be introduced for a week as a trial and will inform next steps.
All money from the 20p levy will be donated to the Surfers Against Sewage charity, which works to help clean up the UK’s oceans and beaches and and to sustainability projects at the Students' Union.
Mel Kee, Sheffield Students’ Union Development Officer for 2018/19, has been working closely with the University on the levy. She said: “As a society we need to move away from our current throwaway culture and coffee is a great example of this. The levy is about making staff and students aware of the impact of their everyday practices, and pushing towards use of reusables over single-use.”
Switching to reusable cups
Reusable cups will be available to buy from all our outlets and cafes. Or you can join the Campus Cups scheme. Simply pay a £5 deposit and receive your Campus Cup band. This acts as you membership card, allowing you to get a drink in a Campus Cup at at University or SU outlet. When you've finished your drink, simply drop off your cup at any outlet and keep your band. Sign up to the scheme online or visit the welcome desk at the Students' Union.
Ethical coffee on campus
The levy on single use cups is part of a larger initiative by the University to ensure every cup of coffee sold on campus is produced as sustainably and ethically as possible. The University has looked at every aspect of a cup of coffee - the beans, the milk and the cups - to see how it can be made more sustainable.
Local company Roastology, which has a roastery just three miles away from the main campus, is the official University coffee supplier. Roastology has a direct trade agreement with the CENCOIC co-operative in the Cauca region of Colombia, meaning that the coffee enjoyed across campus travels in a three step process. The coffee is grown at a height of 1300 metres, around 200 miles from the equator before being processed and shipped to Sheffield where it is roasted near Meadowhall before being delivered to the University - a first of its kind framework for any University in the UK. This shorter supply chain ensures the University knows where it coffee comes from and that the bean growers benefit properly.
Our Cow Molly, the only dairy farm in Sheffield that processes and bottles its own milk, provides for all 13 of the University’s coffee shops and its convenience shop. Milk travels only four miles from the farm to the University and by purchasing locally, every penny from the milk remains in Sheffield, benefiting the local economy and community. By using a local supplier, the University’s carbon footprint and environmental impact is also minimised.
Professor Duncan Cameron, Professor of Plant and Soil Biology and Co-director of the Plant Production and Protection (P3) Centre of excellence for translational agricultural technologies, who is leading our Sustainability Strategy said: “Our work with both Our Cow Molly and Roastology has enabled us to collapse our coffee supply chain, ensuring we know where each element of the cups of coffee we sell on comes from.
“The partnerships demonstrate how our research and procurement decisions are coming together to address a real-world sustainability challenge. Our work on coffee is one example of our commitment to making the University of Sheffield more sustainable. Our new sustainability strategy will help us to carry out more projects like this; using our world-leading research to examine sustainability challenges, which in turn will influence our actions on campus.”
To mark the launch of the strategy there will be a five-day programme of talks discussing how we're using research to tackle economic and environmental challenges. The strategy was developed by a team of PhD students from the Grantham Institute for Sustainable Futures and is based around the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.