Reducing Waste

Our campuses typically generate around 394 tonnes of waste annually. In order to reduce our environmental impact we are continually researching new opportunities to reduce, reuse, repair and recycle throughout the University.


How to recycle...

At our student accommodation sites

Bin stores

Please do not leave bin bags or waste lying on the floor of the bin store. This is a big health and safety risk, not only for your fellow students but for the front-line Edinburgh Council staff who come to take your rubbish away.

You should always put your rubbish away in the appropriate bin, not leave it by the side or on top. Please check all the bins to see if there is space – just because the first one you check is full, doesn't mean the others are too!

Watch out for cross-contamination

Make sure you don't contaminate the mixed recyclables with waste that should go in the non-recyclable bin. Please make sure to do your part to help us reduce our environmental impact by ensuring you're recycling correctly.

Mixed recyclables should only include CLEAN:

  • Cardboard
  • Metal
  • Paper
  • Plastics

It should not include any dirty or contaminated cups, food containers or liquids. Please make sure that anything you put in the mixed recycling has been fully cleaned. Greasy takeaway pizza boxes should be put in the non-recyclable bins.

When putting mixed recycling into the bins in the bin store, please remember to take them out of any plastic bags they have been collected in and put the empty plastic bag in the non-recycling bin.

Items that should go in your non-recycling bin include:

  • Carrier bags
  • Cling film
  • Crisp bags
  • Disposable cups
  • Contaminated food packaging such as pizza boxes
  • Polystyrene

But no liquid!

If you have any questions or would like any advice on recycling, our Environmental Sustainability team are here to help! Please email or follow them on Facebook or Twitter.

In your local community

There is an array of information available to help at home or wherever you generate waste. Support includes the handy Recycling Sorter Tool developed by Zero Waste Scotland. Also, visit the Edinburgh Reuse Map developed by Changeworks.

Student taking free period products from dispenser

Waste on Campus

We typically recycle 80% of waste generated at our campus. The remaining 20% is used as refuse-derived fuel. We are continually working on ways to increase reuse and recycling of waste.

At the start of 2020 we audited, repurposed and repositioned all internal bins throughout all campuses. The project included development and promotion of new and clearer signage to help everyone manage their waste appropriately.


What we're doing to reduce waste

Taking steps to reduce waste is the responsibility of everyone across the University, from our catering outlets and teaching labs to libraries and accommodation. Here are some of the initiatives we've put in place recently to help encourage our University community to reduce, reuse, repair and recycle.

Free reusable period products

Thanks to Scottish Government funding, we're able to provide free period products to Edinburgh Napier students. We've teamed up with Hey Girls, whose "Buy One Give One" products are aimed at ending period poverty.

We offer students a range of environmentally-friendly and reusable period products for free, including reusable pads, period pants and menstrual cups. The single-use products are plastic free. We also support Hey Girls in their campaigns aimed at highlighting environmental issues, such as "Don't Rush to Flush".

Our own Edinburgh Napier students were involved in the design of the period product dispensers on campus - read about their Bleedin' Saor project.

Find out more about the Edinburgh Napier Free Period scheme.


Abandoned bikes on campus are tagged for a period of time to allow the chance for their owner to collect them. If nobody claims the bike, we donate it to one of our partner organisations such as The Bike Station or Bikes for Refugees. Bikes for Refugees refurbishes and distributes bikes to help the social inclusion and integration of new Scots into Scottish life.


Our annual Don't Dump, Donate initiative encourages students to collect items they no longer want or need and donate them to be reused or recycled instead of going to waste. This includes kitchen items, books, clothes, food and even bikes!

We then donate the collected items to our partner organisations, such as the British Heart Foundation, Edinburgh Food Bank or Bikes for Refugees.

In 2019, we collected:

  • 624 bags of donations for the British Heart Foundation, with a value of £8,736 and diverting 4.9T from landfill.
  • 94.45kg worth of food which was donated to Edinburgh North West Foodbank
  • 2 bikes

Unfortunately our 2020 collection was unable to take place due to Covid-19.


  • We removed plastic cutlery from our catering outlets.
  • We removed napkins from general display and encourage students and staff to ask for napkins only if they need them.
  • We introduced a 25p charge for disposable cups, with the proceeds going towards sustainable projects.
  • We launched Edinburgh Napier Keep Cups to encourage the use of reusable cups.