Sheffield Uni to reduce plastic waste on campus by 87,000 bottles a year

The university’s partnership with Our Cow Molly will cut the carbon footprint on milk delivery by 65 per cent

Sheffield University has partnered with local dairy farm to reduce plastic waste in cafes on campus.

The sustainability project is set to remove 27,000 single-use plastics bottles per year by switching to milk churns supplied by Our Cow Molly, a dairy farm located four miles from university campus.

The milk churns have initially been installed in three of the university’s busiest cafes. Each churn can be washed and refilled and hold up to 22 pints of milk.

If the initial plastic reducing concept is successful, further churns will be installed in the other cafes on campus. This will help remove a further 60,000 plastic bottles.

Our Cow Molly

The installation of Our Cow Molly’s milk pumps will cut the carbon footprint of milk delivery to the university by over 65 percent – the equivalent to 6.5 tonnes of CO2 every year.

Peter Anstess, Head of Retail at the University of Sheffield, said: “With 19 cafes and bars, the retail operation at the University serves over 6,000 people every day.

“This volume of purchasing brings a responsibility to source products that are high quality, local and sustainable.”

Sheffield University has worked closely with Our Cow Molly for the last five years. The dairy farm is one of the key suppliers of milk across Sheffield and has supplied the university with fresh milk for half a decade.

Eddie Andrew, Director of Our Cow Molly, said: “I saw Peter Anstess, Head of Retail at the University, and with an old milk churn and a Tetley’s hand pull demonstrated a very agricultural first version of our idea for reusable milk churns.

“Thanks to the support of staff throughout the University, including Professor Duncan Cameron at the Institute for Sustainable Food for funding a prototype, this new project is now saving plastic waste every day and, most importantly, proving the concept works.”

Since Eddie brought his idea of the milk churns to the university’s attention, they have funded and supported the sustainability initiative and have invested in 70 churns so far, helping to fill up the 430,000 pints its cafes roll out each year.

Our Cow Molly

Alongside Our Cow Molly, the sustainability project has collaborated with a number of other leading academic and professional teams at the University, including the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures, Institute for Sustainable Food and Accommodation and Commercial Services team.

Dr Rachael Rothman, Co-Director of the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures and Academic Lead for Sustainability at the University, said: “It is so important we work together to reduce single use packaging and this project is an excellent example of how impact can be achieved by interdisciplinary, collaborative working.”

Our Cow Molly has received multiple awards for its produce. In 2015, they were crowned Yorkshire’s Post Farmer of the Year as well as the BBC Food Award for Future Food in which they beat McDonalds, with their cow to customer low impact supply chain.

Coffee on campus is sustainably sourced from coffee bean company Roastology, located three miles away. Sheffield University also plans to charge an addition levy of 20p on single use disposable cups to encourage students to start using reusable mugs for their campus coffees.

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