DMU launches new initiative to cut plastic use at UN in New York

De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) has pledged its support to the United Nations sustainability goals by announcing it is to ban non-recyclable plastic on campus, offering students and staff free reusable cups instead.

Professor Dominic Shellard, Vice-Chancellor of DMU, announced the news today at the United Nations in New York as part of an event to further the university’s work helping refugees across the globe through the UN’s Together campaign.

Sustainable goals

Around 23,000 cups will be offered to all students and another 3,000 to staff as the university invests in making itself more sustainable and environmentally-friendly.

And, as of September, the university is banning the use of non-recyclable plastic on campus.

It is estimated that the UK throws away around 2.5bn disposable coffee cups a year and almost all are incinerated, exported or sent to landfill because their plastic lining makes them expensive to recycle.

The wider effects of plastic waste were recently highlighted on BBC One’s Planet Earth II, which showed marine life suffering from ingesting buckets, toothpicks and more.

In response, Professor Dominic Shellard created this new initiative, which will see the university not only offering free reusable cups but working with its supply chain to phase out single-use plastic products.

The plans will also see DMU work with catering partner Chartwells to:

  • Remove all single use non-recyclable drinking cups on campus
  • Replace all plastic disposable cutlery with compostable items
  • Replace plastic milk cartons from all outlets with recyclable alternatives
  • Expand the number of free drinking water fountains on campus


The cups will be made available in at the start of the next academic year, with the university aiming to ban all non-recyclable plastic on campus from September 1.

For using the new cups, staff and students will receive 20p off the price of hot drinks from all campus outlets run by Chartwells.

Professor Shellard said he was making the announcement now to allow people to grow used to the idea and build support for its introduction.

He said: “Universities should be setting the agenda when it comes to sustainability.

“We have designed our buildings and campus facilities around sustainable principles and are continuing to commit investment to ensure we leave the smallest environmental footprints we can.

“This is an ethos shared very strongly among students and staff. We are planning to expand this work in the coming months and will give more details as these plans are finalised.”

The work underlines DMU’s commitment to supporting the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals: 17 targets which aim to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

This initiative supports Goal 12 – reducing ecological footprint by promoting responsible consumption and production and Goal 14 - conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources – as well as others among the 17 UN targets.

DMU is already working closely with the UN to lead on engaging universities across the world in its Together campaign, which supports refugees and migrants across the world.

The university – led by Professor Shellard - is visiting the UN this month to give an update on its work in the Together campaign, having signed up to its commitment with an event at the New York headquarters in January.

Posted on Tuesday 27th February 2018

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