Last week, Members of the College attended the virtual Green Impact Awards where we received a Platinum Award for the third year running. We also received one of three Excellence Awards for a special project, Plastic Reductions, led by Fellow Dr Alison Ming.

The awards were opened by Cambridge University Environment Engagement Officer Jessica Haskell, who welcomed everyone and introduced Ian Leslie, Senior Advisor to the VC, with special responsibility for environmental matters. Ian thanked the audience on behalf of the University community for all they had achieved, stating that 11 thousand actions had been undertaken. The University is leading the way with carbon reduction, using science based targets, and is one of the first institutions to do so.

Presenting on the Plastic Reductions project, Dr Alison Ming explained that the target of the project was to reduce the use of single use plastic on site by 5%, involving key departments including catering, conferencing and housekeeping. By the time of lockdown we had achieved a 4 % reduction in single use through various means, including the removal of prewrapped snacks, a reduction in the amount of coffee cups and the replacement of commercial toiletries with a bio-degradable version. We also started an Ecover refill station for cleaning products and had 37 sales into refillable containers in the first week.

Dr Ming also spoke about a site wide litter pick, where members, including the Master, Professor Dame Athene Donald, joined the group and used the litter collected to make eco bricks. Dr Ming commended Churchill student Edie Turner for her involvement in the eco brick project, and also the Churchill staff who led on the various successful initiatives.

Unfortunately COVID-19 has resulted in some of these changes being overturned as infection control has become the College’s main priority, but the project has helped us to think about the plastic we use and to come up with innovative solutions that we can reintroduce when it is safe to do so.

Edie Turner and Professor Dame Athene Donald standing in the Buttery holding a bag of rubbish and an ecobrick (a plastic bottle stuffed full of collected plastic waste).
Student Edie Turner with Professor Dame Athene Donald