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University a finalist in Australasian sustainability awards

25 September 2014

University a finalist in Australasian sustainability awards

The University of Waikato has been selected as a finalist in the 2014 Green Gown Awards Australasia. The university is one of four finalists in the Best Newcomer category for its programme “Waste Innovation, from campus to community: using waste to engage and change behaviour”.

The Green Gown Awards were established to recognise sustainability best practice within the tertiary education sector in Australasia and recognise institutions’ sustainability actions and initiatives. The awards were founded in the UK in 2004 and are now in their fifth year in Australasia.

University of Waikato Environmental & Sustainability Manager Rachael Goddard says the awards are recognition of the sustainability successes that universities and polytechnics achieve.

“It is exciting to have been shortlisted as a finalist in the Best Newcomer category,” she says. “It’s also very timely as the sustainability awards align with our new University Strategy in which sustainability is embedded. It is also recognition for the hard work that everyone has put in which shows sustainability in action on campus.”

Waste minimisation has been a key focus over the last two years for the university, after a series of audits revealed 350 tonnes of waste were going to landfill annually, including 33,000 polystyrene cups.

A waste programme was implemented involving students, an environmental mascot, animated films, lectures, branding, social media, competitions, signage, waste audits, worm farms called “The Faculty of Worms” generate three tonnes of compost annually, and new indoor recycling stations have led to a significant increase in recycling.

The university also ran an initiative to design and construct a large solar-powered compost unit in conjunction with two local councils and students. This led to further research on using waste materials in the construction of the unit and a potential partnership with a local school and community gardens.

The Green Gown Awards Australasia are run by Australasian Campuses Towards Sustainability Incorporated Association, a non-profit member-based organisation representing higher and further education institutions within Australia and New Zealand.

Winners will be announced at an award ceremony on November 6 in Hobart.

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