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Case Study: University of London

When the University of London signed up to Warp It in 2013, the main driver was waste reduction.

Since then, waste has certainly been reduced, but the knock-on effect has led to savings in the thousands.

University sustainability manager John Bailey explains: “Our main goal was to avoid filling skips with perfectly useful equipment. It frustrates people in the estates department to see furniture and other paraphernalia going to waste because the numbers in a department have changed or there’s a new building. So we started looking at Warp It to avoid waste and, since it has been in place, we’ve saved nearly £27,000 in avoided costs. It has easily paid for itself many times over.”

The University of London estate covers around 30 buildings, ranging from research institutes and libraries to a computer centre and halls of residence. Like most educational institutions, the end of the academic year is a crunch point for waste, with departments rationalising and adjusting demands for the year ahead. Waste collection is managed centrally, with recycling targets in place to drive improved performance. Any reuse that was taking place prior to Warp It was on a small, ad hoc basis.

When the university signed up to the online reuse platform, it was publicised through internal staff communications such as the intranet. Bailey says: “The most effective thing we did was to advertise 100 chocolate bars. People logged on to the system, taught themselves how to use it and claimed their chocolate bar. It worked brilliantly – that one small investment resulted in 100 extra users on the site and we made several thousand pounds’ worth of savings the following month.”

Since then, around 180 members of staff have become regular users, and the exchanges have led to six tonnes of waste avoided and CO2e savings of almost 12 tonnes. The most common articles exchanged are desks, chairs and pedestals; if items are not traded internally, they are offered to partners under the University of London umbrella or other local institutions.

Aside from the waste and cost saving achievements, Bailey explains that facilities management has relished the extra storage space available. He says: “We have a very small storage space available to the department. However, we would prefer goods to be advertised on Warp It and taken away as rooms are being cleared.

“I would definitely recommend trying Warp It – the price of the software was nowhere near the savings we have realised. I have to add that I would also advise getting 100 chocolate bars – I strongly believe that should be a core part of the investment!”               

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