05.10.21 Campus Living Labs Sustainability Project sees Universities and the Environmental Protection Agency working together to reduce waste on campus

The Irish Universities Association is delighted to launch Campus Living Labs, in partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a project aimed at reducing waste and increasing recycling on IUA University campuses.

This two-year initiative, will design and deliver behavioural and infrastructural interventions targeting consumption and waste management habits of campus populations.

Funded by the National Waste Prevention Programme (NWPP), a Government of Ireland initiative, the project aims to prevent waste, improve waste segregation and increase recycling across university campuses.

With over 162,000 students across eight campuses, Irish Universities are unique ecosystems with populations like that of a small town or village, making them ideal testbeds or living labs for trialling waste and recycling interventions.

With a focus on reducing food waste and eliminating certain single use plastics, the project will recommend and introduce best practice on waste and recycling to improve the overall sustainability of Irish campuses, moving Universities towards a circular economy.

The waste and recycling interventions introduced under Campus Living Labs will also assist the higher education sector in meeting wider national targets, especially under Ireland’s Climate Action Plan and the Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy.

The Campus Living Labs initiative is particularly aligned with several aims set out in the Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy, including education to improve waste segregation, halving our food waste by 2030, improving recycling infrastructure, and banning certain single-use plastics in line with the Single Use Plastics Directive.

Speaking about the project launch, Minister of State with special responsibility for Communications and Circular Economy, Ossian Smyth TD said “Collaborative efforts such as the Campus Living Labs Sustainability project are important in helping us reach our national goals on waste prevention and transitioning to a circular economy. It is encouraging to see universities collaborating in this way to reduce waste, increase recycling, and to help make Irish campuses more sustainable.”

Laura Burke Director General of the Environmental Protection Agency said “The project is timely as the Government is expected to publish an All of Government Circular Economy Strategy later this year. Project outcomes will allow the EPA to gather evidence and provide shared learnings that can be applied in the future to other third level campus populations, or other types of campuses such as hospitals, airports, shopping centres or small towns.”

Jim Miley, Director General of the Irish Universities Association said, “The IUA is excited to partner with EPA on this joint initiative to improve the sustainability of University campuses by reducing waste and improving recycling through innovative interventions.  Irish universities will join in their efforts to make Irish campuses more sustainable in line with our national goals.’’


Follow @IUASustainable on Twitter for updates on the project.

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 Notes to the Editor

For more information on the IUA EPA Campus Living Labs Project visit https://www.iua.ie/campuslivinglabs

To view HEA Enrolment Statistics 2020/21 visit https://hea.ie/statistics/data-for-download-and-visualisations/data-for-download/2020-21-enrolment-data-for-download/

For further information on the Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy visit https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/4221c-waste-action-plan-for-a-circular-economy/