Durham University joins campaign to reduce plastic waste

By Julia Atherley

Durham University has become the first university in the North of England to join an initiative aimed at reducing plastic waste.

The Refill campaign was launched by Northumbrian Water and aims to reduce the number of single-use plastic bottles. It works by encouraging businesses to allow members of the public to fill up their water bottles free of charge.

The university’s 11 cafes have joined the scheme, including:

  • Library Café
  • Calman Café
  • Palatine Centre Restaurant
  • Chemistry Café
  • Botanic Garden Visitor Centre
  • Oriental Museum
  • Fusion Restaurant – Durham University Business School
  • Café on the Green
  • Palace Green Library
  • Maiden Castle Café
  • Waterside Café – Queen’s Campus, Stockton.

Gus Hoyt, Refill Programme Manager at City To Sea, said: “This is really exciting news! If every university followed Durham’s example and addressed tackling single-use plastics at source we’d be a long way towards fixing this looming environmental issue.

“Refill was born to help leave a better planet for the next generation and it is fantastic to see students fully embrace this initiative for themselves.”

Students can download the Refill app which can be used to indicate which local businesses are signed up for the scheme.

“We enthusiastically welcome the opportunity to be part of this campaign and we hope that students across Durham will engage with this to help to protect our environment.”

Durham University’s Chief Operating Officer, Jane Robinson, said: “We all have a part to play in protecting and enhancing our natural environment for future generations.

“Signing up to the Refill campaign helps transform our commitment to improving environmental sustainability from words into meaningful actions. We hope others will do the same and support this fantastic initiative.”

The announcement follows a nationwide interest in reducing usage of single-use plastic bottles after Blue Planet II showed the pollution they cause in the marine environment.

Megan Croll, President of Durham Students’ Union said: “This year Durham Students’ Union has shown commitment to reduce single use plastics. For example, we no longer put straws into drinks served at our bars, and we are looking to provide reusable, rather than single use cups, in our café.

“We enthusiastically welcome the opportunity to be part of this campaign and we hope that students across Durham will engage with this to help to protect our environment.”

Photograph: Louise Hunter, Northumbrian Water; Jane Robinson, Durham University’s Chief Operating Officer; and Megan Croll, President of Durham Students’ Union, in the Palatine Café

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