University of Liverpool’s net zero ambitions boosted by key partnership

A Russell Group university’s quest for net zero has been accelerated by the UK’s largest food waste recycling company.

The University of Liverpool, which appointed Keenan Recycling at the start of the academic year, says early indications are that 60 tonnes of food waste will be going to anaerobic digestion (AD) plants and converted into renewable energy.

The energy generated will be equivalent to 5,250 students being able to fully charge their phones or power 320 televisions for a full year.

Keenan Recycling is also in the process of replacing its transport fleet with eco-friendly trucks powered by compressed biomethane, which will further reduce the university’s scope three (indirect) emissions later in 2024.

With data to the end of January highlighting more than 24 tonnes of food waste collected, the University of Liverpool’s waste and recycling officer for facilities, residential, and commercial services, Sam Hay, is excited to see the partnership flourish.

Sam said: “We averaged 1,354 tonnes per year of general waste between 2009 and 2019, a total which was reduced to 910 tonnes in 2022/2023. 

“The objective for 2025 is 677 tonnes, which would see a reduction of 50 per cent from the 10-year average.

“Across the calendar year the total food waste that can be recycled could be 60 tonnes and that is a huge positive for our waste reduction targets.”

Keenan Recycling, which was engaged via the TUCO framework, worked closely with the university to have more than 900 food caddies and 55 external bins put in place across 12 locations as students arrived on campus at the start of September.

Sam continued: “It was a tight timetable, but together we managed to have it all set up, and the students could begin recycling their food waste from day one, which was important.

“As we continue to segregate our food waste, our general waste will reduce and that will also have an impact when it comes to expense.”

While Sam and the university are encouraged with the positive results, they arev very happy with the entire service provided by Keenan, which aims to have a fully decarbonised fleet by 2030.

Sam said: “They acted quickly so we could start the process, but there has been so much more in terms of provision.

“Keenan weighs each bin on collection, which means we are provided with an accurate figure for every single one. This gives us the opportunity to compare data and performance at each of our buildings, identifying any opportunities for improvement.

“The data is available to us on Keenan’s online portal, which means we can access it whenever we like and can use it to pull off reports. 

“Emission data is also available, so we can track our carbon savings compared to the traditional disposal route of incineration with energy recovery.

“I’ve also been very impressed with the customer service we have received, with somebody always at the end of the phone or available via email, meaning any issues have been resolved in a timely manner.”

Claire Keenan, director at food waste specialist Keenan Recycling, said: “We are thrilled to be playing such a crucial role in the university’s journey to net zero.

“We pride ourselves on our service, so to hear about the positive impact that our activity is having on the daily operations in Liverpool is wonderful.”

To learn more about recycling options or career opportunities, click here.

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