Edinburgh Student Co-Operative wins Climate Challenge Fund Award

On Wednesday, November 1 the Edinburgh Creative Reuse Hub, a project run by the Shrub Swap and Reuse Hub Co-operative, won the Waste award at the first Climate Challenge Fund (CCF).

Other projects shortlisted for the award were Revolve Recycle and (Still) Too Good To Waste. The CCF Awards Panel commended the Edinburgh Creative Reuse Hub for ‘excellent and innovative participative approaches to governance and project delivery, building community capacity and working collaboratively with numerous partners to maximise impact.’

The Edinburgh Creative Reuse Hub is the latest project by the Shrub Co-operative, which was founded in 2014 by a group of University of Edinburgh students.

Their efforts to reduce waste and increase sustainability began when students noticed the amount of waste left in halls of residence at the end of the academic year. After organising to collect these items, the students launched a ‘free shop’ at the start of the new term which continued successfully for two years, saving 12 tonnes of leftover possessions form landfill.

In 2013 the Swap and Reuse Hub (Shrub) co-operative was founded, and now has 330 members and 200 volunteers. As well as running more free shops the co-operative has launched over projects including a Food Sharing network that redistributes unused food from local businesses.

A spokesperson for the Shrub co-operative said, ‘Shrub’s members have worked tirelessly to create an inclusive governance structure that is largely volunteer led, drawing in the community to combat waste in Edinburgh. All of this is managed with the help of an amazing team of volunteers, made up of both students and other members of the community.’

The co-operative is funded by European Regional Development Fund, as well as the CCF, which is part of the Keep Scotland Beautiful charity.

Keep Scotland Beautiful is part of the Scottish government’s Zero Waste Plan, which was launched in 2010 and aims to recycle 70 per cent of waste and send only 5 per cent to landfill by 2025. As of 2016, the amount of waste sent to landfill was 3.72 million tonnes, a decrease of 11.1 per cent from 2015.

The shrub co-operative is one of several projects linked to the University of Edinburgh which aim to reduce waste. The University aims to be carbon neutral by 2040, and has recently moved £60m of its investments into low-carbon, sustainable businesses. Past campaigns by students themselves have also aimed to increase sustainability, including a 2015 bicycle hire campaign that was launched at Pollock Halls of Residence by the Edinburgh University Students’ Association.

Student pressure is having a real impact on universities’ sustainability development nationwide, according to the 10th annual People & Planet University League table. A 2012 public pledge, ‘The Green Education Declaration’, has successfully started to hold universities to account on sustainability, five years after 40 Vice-Chancellors signed it.

The most recent league table placed the University of Edinburgh second of all Scottish universities, ranked behind Edinburgh Napier University.

Image: Dienu Prihartadi / Photographer

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