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Best universities for recycling and sustainability 2023

Explore the top 100 universities championing responsible consumption and production in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 

    June 20 2023
    Best universities for recycling and reusing


    Plastic use has become one of the biggest issues of this generation, with bottles, bags, food packaging and straws littering our beaches and clogging up our oceans.

    While we have a long way to go to rectify this, there are many things you can do to help to preserve the planet. And one of those is holding your university to account and understanding what it’s doing to consume materials responsibly.

    The Times Higher Education Impact Rankings are a good place to start if you are looking to see which universities are dedicated to reducing plastic waste, minimising the use of disposable items and working to recycle more, and which have policies in place for sourcing ethical goods.

    To put together this ranking, we mapped how universities around the world are committing to the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs are a global call to action to tackle poverty, climate change and inequality.

    The SDGs look to tackle some of today’s biggest global issues, and SDG 12 covers responsible consumption and production. More on the methodology for this ranking can be found here.

    1. Western Sydney University

    In 2017, Western Sydney University signed the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network Higher Education Commitment. This means that it has committed to undertaking research in sustainable development, providing courses for students in sustainable development and responsible consumption and ensuring that its campus is environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive.

    The university undertakes a range of sustainability-related research, including sustainable agriculture, soil biology and food security.

    It has a range of living labs on its campus to aid with teaching and research in areas such as renewable energy, water recycling and and natural and cultural heritage.

    2. University of Reading

    The University of Reading is working with students to embed sustainability and sustainable development into all courses to educate students about the importance of sustainable living.

    In addition to this, the university offers a range of modules on environmental and social issues to all undergraduate students, regardless of which faculty they are studying in. There is also a free online two-week course in which you can investigate the impact of climate change and the research being done into it.

    The university has a range of sustainability projects, including the Research Woodland and the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme.

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    =3. University of Manchester

    The University of Manchester has a range of sustainability measures on campus to reduce waste. The Want Not, Waste Not shop on campus sells a selection of zero-waste products including spices, pulses, cleaning products and beauty products.

    The university is also working to reduce plastic at all its events, by replacing balloons with paper bunting, using potato-based tokens instead of plastic ones and eliminating plastic water bottles and printed flyers.

    There is also a range of research being conducted at the university into the impact of microplastics in UK rivers and new ways of using plastic and reducing its use.

    =3. Manchester Metropolitan University

    In April 2021, Manchester Metropolitan University launched the “Give It, Don’t Bin It” campaign, which encourages students to donate unwanted items and leftover food to charity partners, including the British Heart Foundation and Manchester Central Food Bank. Donation banks and boxes are situated all over campus.

    Students wishing to get involved in sustainability can choose from a range of initiatives across campus, including the Sustainability Ambassador scheme and Climate and Social Action Week.

    Students also run a clothing swap shop and MetMUnch, a student network that focuses on training and pop-ups all around food, nutrition and sustainability.

    5. University of Galway

    The University of Galway has signed the SDG Accord, which means it is committed to embedding the SDGs into its education, research, leadership, operations, administration and engagement activities.

    Students can also get involved by joining dedicated clubs such as the environmental society, the energy society, the organic gardening society and the vegan society.

    Best universities for recycling and sustainability 2023

    Recycling and sustainability rank 2023 University Country/region
    1 Western Sydney University Australia
    2 University of Reading United Kingdom
    =3 University of Manchester United Kingdom
    =3 Manchester Metropolitan University United Kingdom
    5 University of Galway Ireland
    6 Bournemouth University United Kingdom
    7 Queen’s University Belfast United Kingdom
    8 Yonsei University (Seoul campus) South Korea
    =9 Université Laval Canada
    =9 University of Sheffield United Kingdom
    =9 University of Warwick United Kingdom
    12 University of Exeter United Kingdom
    13 University of Canterbury New Zealand
    14 University of Strathclyde United Kingdom
    15 Lappeenranta-Lahti University of Technology LUT Finland
    16 De Montfort University United Kingdom
    17 University of Limerick Ireland
    18 University of Technology Sydney Australia
    19 Dalhousie University Canada
    =20 Bangor University United Kingdom
    =20 University of Victoria Canada
    22 Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University United States
    23 Newcastle University United Kingdom
    24 Cardiff University United Kingdom
    25 UNSW Sydney Australia
    26 Durham University United Kingdom
    =27 University of Essex United Kingdom
    =27 University of Leicester United Kingdom
    29 University of Aberdeen United Kingdom
    30 Aalborg University Denmark
    31 Wageningen University & Research Netherlands
    32 University of Auckland New Zealand
    33 The University of Queensland Australia
    34 University of Surrey United Kingdom
    35 KTH Royal Institute of Technology Sweden
    36 University of Greenwich United Kingdom
    37 Nottingham Trent University United Kingdom
    38 University of Tasmania Australia
    =39 Arizona State University (Tempe) United States
    =39 Dublin City University Ireland
    =41 University of Plymouth United Kingdom
    =41 Tunghai University Taiwan
    43 RMIT University Australia
    =44 University of Johannesburg South Africa
    =44 Saveetha Institute of Medical and Technical Sciences India
    46 York University Canada
    47 University of British Columbia Canada
    48 University of Eastern Finland Finland
    49 Free University of Berlin Germany
    50 Carleton University Canada
    =51 University of Florence Italy
    =51 National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) Taiwan
    =51 University of Valencia Spain
    =54 Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar India
    =54 Mahidol University Thailand
    =54 University of Tsukuba Japan
    57 University of Toronto Canada
    =58 University of East Anglia United Kingdom
    =58 Kyushu University Japan
    =58 Swansea University United Kingdom
    61 Monterrey Institute of Technology Mexico
    62 University College Cork Ireland
    63 École des Mines de Saint-Étienne France
    64 University of the Sunshine Coast Australia
    65 IPB University Indonesia
    =66 Auckland University of Technology New Zealand
    =66 University of Waterloo Canada
    68 Chiang Mai University Thailand
    69 Waseda University Japan
    70 University of St Andrews United Kingdom
    =71 IMT Atlantique France
    =71 Queen’s University Canada
    =73 City, University of London United Kingdom
    =73 University of Malaya Malaysia
    =75 Chulalongkorn University Thailand
    =75 National Tsing Hua University Taiwan
    77 University of Westminster United Kingdom
    78 National Chin-Yi University of Technology Taiwan
    79 University of the West of England United Kingdom
    =80 Kasetsart University Thailand
    =80 Suranaree University of Technology Thailand
    82 University of Wollongong Australia
    83 IMT Mines Alès France
    84 University of Jyväskylä Finland
    85 Federal University of Uberlândia Brazil
    =86 University of Calgary Canada
    =86 National Yunlin University of Science and Technology Taiwan
    88 Middle East Technical University Turkey
    =89 National Pingtung University of Science and Technology Taiwan
    =89 University of Worcester United Kingdom
    =91 University of Glasgow United Kingdom
    =91 Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences Sweden
    93 Chinese University of Hong Kong Hong Kong
    94 Western University Canada
    95 Tohoku University Japan
    96 Kobe University Japan
    97 University of Indonesia Indonesia
    =98 Hong Kong Baptist University Hong Kong
    =98 National Taiwan University (NTU) Taiwan
    =98 Northumbria University United Kingdom

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