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Environmental Impact

Catering Outlets Community Projects Halls Freshers' Packs Fair Trade

At Cardiff University Students’ Union we are passionate about reducing the impact that we have on the environment. We are always looking for ways to reduce our carbon footprint and aim to use sustainable products where we are able to.

Crisp Packet Recycling

We now recycle crisp packets at the Students' Union! You will find the bins at our Welcome Centre, The Lounge and the ground floor, and you can recycle any type of crisp packet. Every month your President Jackie Yip will take the packaging to the Redwood Building where they will be recycled into new products. 

Y Plas Food Court

Small changes, big impact: We now offer recyclable paper straws and biodegradable wooden cultery across all our outlets instead of plastic.

Snack Shack

The Coco Cola cups used in Snack Shack are made from paper and are recyclable. We also use recyclable check paper to wrap our burgers. Meals are presented in recycled and recyclable cardboard containers. They are biodegradable and can by disposed of with food waste. If they are composted, they can completely break down within 16 weeks.

During club nights, we use expanded polystyrene containers which can be recycled although they are not the most easily recyclable material available.


Our salads are served in recyclable plastic containers, baguettes are served in recyclable bags and our soup and jacket potato containers are recyclable cardboard that is totally biodegradable and compostable.

Community Projects

Our Students’ Union in-house charity, Cardiff Volunteering works with students and local community partners on a number of exciting and innovative volunteering projects that have a positive impact on the environment.

Clean Up Cardiff is a project which sees enthusiastic volunteers help with litter picks, river clean-ups, beach clean-ups and initiatives that look to reduce plastic in the community and beyond. Litter picking events take place every Wednesday afternoon at different locations in and around Cardiff, with some further afield beach clean-ups throughout the year.

Our Global Gardens partnership project is about coming together to celebrate ecological and cultural diversity. Weekly organic gardening sessions at the Global Gardens allotment site in Heath and a monthly supper at the Embassy Café aim to support those seeking sanctuary, including refugees and asylum seekers.

Set up by a Medic Undergraduate student in 2015, our Waste Not Want Not volunteering project sees students help redistribute foodstuffs from local food outlets to local homelessness charities. Volunteers also help out with the Cathays Community Fridge project based at Cathays Community Centre - a community fridge where surplus food is shared freely between people in the community. Foodstuffs are donated by local businesses and individuals and our volunteers help with collections, monitoring or spreading the word. Both these initiatives help greatly to the local reduction of food waste.

Find out more about Cardiff Volunteering projects

Halls Freshers' Packs 2019

For September 2019, we are using biodegradable packaging for our Freshers' packs placed on beds in Halls of Residences. This biodegradable packaging is made from regular polythene - i.e. manufactured using oil-based polymers - with an additive that acts as a catalyst to accelerate the degradation process.

The additive - named TDPA (Totally Degradable Plastic Additives) and produced by EPI Environmental Technologies - is designed to manage the lifetime of polythene products so that, once their useful shelf life has passed, they will first degrade and then biodegrade into environmentally-benign products in a matter of months or years, rather than decades or centuries.

This two stage process results in the polythene breaking down through oxidation into smaller and smaller fragments (stage one), which then biodegrade into the natural elements of carbon dioxide, water, biomass, and minerals (stage two).

While this packaging does still have an impact, it is a positive step in the right direction. We will be working to find other environmentally-friendly solutions before September 2020.

All of the packaging, booklets and leaflets included in the packs are printed on paper and can be recycled by adding them to your mixed recycling ... after you've finished reading them of course!

Fair Trade

Cardiff University (including the Students’ Union) was awarded Fairtrade status in June 2007.

Fairtrade status is awarded by the Fairtrade Foundation, a charity committed to providing disadvantaged producers in the developing world with a better deal for their products.

Fairtrade products are available in both Cardiff University catering/bars outlets and the Students’ Union catering and shop outlets. Many students and staff already purchase Fairtrade products and everyone has a part to play in maintaining the University’s Fairtrade status.

For more information visit fairtrade.org.uk 

Cardiff University Fairtrade Policy

Cardiff University & the Students’ Union are committed to supporting, promoting and using Fairtrade goods.

To achieve this, the University will take actions to maintain Fairtrade status, as defined by the Fairtrade Foundation, and thus commits itself to the 5 goals as laid down by the Foundation.

In particular:

  1. Fairtrade foods will be made available for sale in all campus shops and used in all cafés/ restaurants/ bars on campus. Where this is not possible, there is a commitment to begin to use Fairtrade foods in these establishments as soon as it becomes possible to do so.
  2. Fairtrade foods (for example, coffee and tea) will be served at all meetings hosted by the university and the Students’ Union. In addition, unofficial meetings are encouraged to use Fairtrade foods wherever possible.
  3. The process of achieving and maintaining Fairtrade status will be co-ordinated by a Fairtrade Taskforce that will include representatives from the University, the Students’ Union and students. This group will oversee the ongoing implementation of an action plan to maintain the Fairtrade status for the University.
  4. The Fairtrade Taskforce will organise the publicity for Fairtrade fortnight and other promotions of Fairtrade products on an ongoing basis to ensure awareness-raising is maintained.
  5. The Fairtrade Taskforce will send a yearly report on 'Fairtrade in the University/Students’ Union' to Student Council and University Board to be forwarded to the Fairtrade Foundation in fulfilment of the requirement for achieving Fairtrade status.