In May 2020, The SU, in partnership with the University, declared a climate emergency. After a disruptive 18 months, sustainability remains a priority for the SU.

The Climate Action Framework team at the University have been pulling together data regarding the emissions created by the SU. Using data from 2019/20, The SU generated 1,247tonnes CO2e during the academic year. To put that into perspective:

  • 1 tonne of CO2 is about the same as a hot air balloon.
  • It would take 50 trees 1 year to capture 1 tonne of CO2.
  • We would need 62,000 trees, growing for 1 year to capture the amount of CO2 we generated in 2019/20.

There is a lot of work to do to bring this number down, whilst making sure our student body can continue to gain the same student experience. The areas which have the biggest negative impact are bars/events, sport travel and clothing. We have a group of staff and officers who meet each month to focus on reducing this emissions number. Here’s a few things we are currently working on.

Active Travel

  • Bike maintenance stations are due to be installed later this year to support students and staff who cycle to campus.

Clothing and Merchandise

  • Opening a SU merchandise shop which will sell branded merchandise from suppliers who support Fair Trade and Fair Wear
  • Moving towards ethical and eco friendly clothing for events, reps and student groups

Plug & Tub

  • Disposable coffee cups have been removed from Starbucks.
  • Reusable plastic cups are now used for club nights.
  • Working on improving vegetarian and vegan menu options.
  • Working to phase out paper tickets for club nights.

Student Leaders

  • Introducing a Sustainability Award to encourage groups to adapt their activities to make them more sustainable
  • Offering training and resources to support work towards the Sustainability Award
  • Running Education for Sustainable Development training for Academic Reps

Waste and recycling

  • Working to improve bins in the Plug and Tub, including composting food packaging.
  • Running text book resale stalls
  • Swap shops for clothing and fancy dress costumes
  • A second-hand sale was run during FW21 to sell donated kitchen items to freshers. This sale rehomed thousands of unwanted items and raised over £1300 for RAG.

Working with the University

  • SU Officers sit on sustainability meetings with senior management at the University including Education and Travel
  • The SU works closely with the Climate Action Framework team to reduce the emissions impact of the University.

Get in touch

Do you have an idea that would make the SU more sustainable? Do you want to get involved or tell us about upcoming events and campaigns? Email