The first recycle circle is complete!

Published on
January 23, 2020

On 9 January, an important step was taken in the circular economy of Wageningen University & Research. Facilities & Services of WUR has signed the Circular Consortium Agreement regarding the use of recycled paper. Used paper products from WUR will be used as raw materials for new sanitary paper products.

Recycling of paper products

WUR has entered into a collaboration with 3 organisations to recycle paper products. By signing the contract this cycle is now in effect. Used paper cups and paper towels, as well as confidential papers and old office papers, will be collected by Veolia Paper & Plastics Recycling B.V. and transported to the factory of WEPA Nederland B.V.. There, the paper fibres will be reused as raw materials for paper towels and toilet paper. These paper products will eventually be returned to WUR via our supplier Asito.

Recycling at WUR

Sustainable operational management

Signing the contract is a fantastic step towards an ambitious goal: WUR wants to use 50% fewer raw materials by 2030.
Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) are important pillars in the WUR Strategic Plan. This is reflected in our mission and our ambition to take a leading role in the field of sustainable operational management. Wageningen Campus is ecologically friendly and green, with sustainable buildings and facilities. In recent years, energy and water consumption has been significantly reduced, the use of renewable energy has increased and waste is collected separately whenever possible. Together with these 3 supply chain partners we are also exchanging knowledge and transforming waste into raw materials, locally and in a sustainable way. We are laying the foundation for the creation of pure raw materials that contribute to a circular economy, without air pollution, water pollution, or chemical waste in nature.

Our impact on the environment and the climate

Recycling paper products fits in well with making our waste more sustainable. At WUR, 3.8 million cardboard cups and 17 million paper towels are consumed annually and 277,199 kilos of used paper are disposed of. By collecting our used paper products separately and having them processed into BlackSatino sanitary paper products, which we then use again at WUR, we achieve the following environmental savings on an annual basis:

  • 915,691 litre water
  • 62,819 KWh energy
  • 61,136 kg CO2 emissions
  • A production process free of harmful chemicals (Cradle to Cradle)

We realize this cycle by having the products collected and removed by 1 transporter, using existing transport movements. The additional savings by recycling waste paper is 66,711 kg CO2 emissions; this is equivalent to the emissions of 25 leased cars per year. This enables us to significantly reduce our impact on the environment and climate.

Some important steps will have to be taken in the near future. The separate collection of waste can be improved even more and done more effectively if the cups go into the bins without plastic or food waste inside them. And replacing the cups in the educational buildings in the long run is also something that is being looked at. Because of the type of coffee machines in those buildings, which have an automatic cup dispenser that pours coffee/tea particularly quickly, recyclable cups are not yet in use there. During the next tendering process, we will focus on using the same cup on all WUR premises.

The circle is now complete!
By signing this agreement for the sustainable recycling of paper products, WUR is now taking a wonderful first step towards reducing the use of raw materials within WUR, which will have a positive impact on the environment. WUR hopes to set an example for other organisations and universities in the Netherlands. This recycle circle is now really complete!