Reuse centre diverts tonnes of waste from landfill

March 17 / 191

The results speak for themselves. 6.8 million dollars saved and 300 tonnes of perfectly good items repurposed (12 467 items to be exact) – in just four years.

Behind this University of Melbourne success lies a story of leadership, teamwork, energy, passion and personal commitment to the highest ideals of sustainability. 

Since its humble beginnings in 2012, the Re-Use program has evolved and expanded each year. In 2016 it moved into its own building on the University of Melbourne’s Parkville campus and, in addition to office furniture and fittings, now recycles and repurposes IT and other equipment.

“This year we saved around $3000 on just one of the University’s site redevelopment projects alone,” says Nick Swan, the Sustainability team’s Coordinator of Resource Recovery. “When four levels of 757 Swanston Street (former site of the Melbourne Teachers’ College) were being emptied before a major redevelopment, we stepped in to relocate furniture and fittings and clear the areas sustainably rather than simply smashing everything into a skip.”

Sustainability and Environmental Services Manager Danielle Rostan-Herbert says the Reuse Program is the standout of all the sustainability initiatives the University runs. “The program fits in with the University’s Sustainability Charter by delivering environmental benefits and financial savings that are then reinvested into research and teaching.”

The University’s multi-award winning Reuse Program has become a benchmark for such programs across Australian universities and the team is working to spread its knowledge and influence through presentations at national conferences and through philanthropic endeavours, including donation of surplus items to smaller educational and charitable organisations such as the Waratah Development School and the Les Twentyman Foundation. 

“The energy, passion and commitment of every member of our Sustainability team is exemplified by our Resource Recovery Co-ordinator Nick Swan who won last year’s University Services Excellence Award,” Ms Rostan-Herbert says.

“We are all proud of what he, and we, have been able to achieve for the University, for the environment, and for others less fortunate than we are.” 

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