How fair is Fairtrade? debate/speaker evening

An evening of informal interdisciplinary discussion about Fairtrade and its impact in the world. The fairness of Fairtrade will be examined from legal, economist and theological/philosophical perspectives, focusing on its impact in the Global South and the West. In light of International Women’s Day (8th of March), emphasis will be placed on Fairtrade’s impact on the lives of women.

This event is free and open to all. To register please follow the link HERE

We look forward to seeing you!

We are now a Bike Friendly Business!

We are pleased to announce that the University of Leeds are now officially a City Connect Silver Accredited Bike Friendly Business!

Here is some of the judges feedback following our application:

“Well done on achieving Silver accreditation on your first assessment. It’s clear that University of Leeds takes cycling seriously and that you are committed to the continued promotion of cycling to your staff and visitors alike.” City Connect, Bike Friendly Business Team.

So what is Bike Friendly Business Accreditation?

“Currently, the majority of commuter journeys across our region are made by car, whilst only 1.5% of commuter journeys are made by bike. We have a congested, overburdened road network and this contributes to some of the country’s poorest air quality, with local drivers spending on average one day a year sitting in traffic. CityConnect’s Bike Friendly Business accreditation scheme, which complements the new Cycle Superhighway constructed between Bradford and Leeds, aims to help address this and offers support to local organisations who want to encourage more and more people to travel to their premises by bike, and also recognises the efforts of those who are already doing lots of things for people on bikes.” City Connect

How did the University of Leeds perform?

The University of Leeds applied to the CityConnect Bike Friendly Business scheme in order to have some external assessment carried out on all aspects of cycling in the University workplace in order to see what we were doing well and also where we could improve. The University were assessed facilities such as cycle parking, availability of cycle to work scheme and the wider support offered for staff such as availability of bike maintenance facilities and route planning advice, through an application form and a site visit. The assessment from City Connect took into consideration things such as the size of the organisation and other factors which may affect organisational ability to implement certain aspects of their recommendations for improvement as part of the accreditation.

We were the highest scoring bike friendly business in the West Yorkshire region due to things like our campus bike hub, excellent bike parking facilities, cycle to work scheme, staff access to hire bikes and dedicated contacts for cycling in Sustainability Service.  We were only 8 marks from being the first gold accredited regional business so we are now going to look at the areas which were highlighted for improvement such as availability of cycle training and more lockable bike parking to aim for Gold next year!

As part of this accreditation the University are now able to apply for a small grant, offered to help us create a further improved environment to encourage staff and visitors to cycle to campus. We are exploring the possibility of applying for more electric bikes for hire from the bike hub as part of this available grant funding. Watch this space!

If you are interested in finding out more about the scheme, please click here.

Sustainable Food

Tender specification documents for University food suppliers or catering contractors include the requirement for service and supply standards to be met and delivered, as outlined within the University Sustainable Food Policy and against targets outlined within the framework. As these documents are commercially sensitive we are unable to publish them here.  Please contact us for further queries. Our Sustainable Food Standard and Sustainable Procurement Standard are both reported on through the University’s Sustainability Steering Group and in our Annual Sustainability Report

Great Food at Leeds is proud to support our local suppliers. We always try to use local suppliers wherever possible, and we’ve been working with Bradford-based crisp suppliers Seabrooks since 2009.  Great Food at Leeds recently catered for the University of Leeds Sustainability Awards, where all food provided was vegetarian and locally sourced. Space is provided by the University in the Sustainable Garden for community, staff and student food growing.

The University of Leeds holds a number of accreditations and awards for their catering facilities including Green Tourism Gold. For more information on the work that we do on Sustainable Food and for details of our accreditations please visit the Great Food at Leeds’ main web page, Sustainability page and Our Food page.

The University uses local food on University menus and has campus to kitchen food projects, including planters outside of the Student Union containing herbs which are used in the Great Food at Leeds kitchens. Locally sourced produce is also used at the Annual Sustainability Awards. See the link below for further details. An example food map can be found here.

Sustainability Awards 2018



Sustainable Labs

University of Leeds Priestley Laboratory
Priestley Lab after installation of new energy efficient fume cupboards (2014)

At the University of Leeds we are committed to embedding sustainability across the whole institution, integrating it with our approach to student education, research, and operational services. We recognise the value of laboratory spaces as being cradles of innovation, with Leeds offering world class facilities for research to thrive. However, labs are often attributed to high energy and water consumptions as well as hazardous and non-hazardous waste generation compared to other sites across the University.

We are working with operational and academic partners to improve sustainability practises across all laboratories, in turn creating safer working environments, increased operational efficiency, and research opportunities. Spread across campus and St James University Hospital, there are over 540 teaching and research laboratories at the University of Leeds. Collectively across labs there are opportunities to have an overarching positive impact on the environment, economy and society.


S-labs web page - 'working group'

S-labs webpage - 'Energy Efficiency'


S-labs webpage - 'reduce, reude, recycle' red

S-labs web page - 'labchat'



BIG Campus Bird Watch 2018

Birdwatch 2018
On the 26th January 2018 we held our seventh annual ‘Big Campus Bird Watch’. Thanks to all staff and students who came out to help us identify the bird species on campus and help us with our biodiversity work. 

Completing the Survey
You can do the survey in any area of campus you like.  If you have the time and enthusiasm, you are more than welcome to submit multiple forms for different areas of campus! You can complete the survey in a variety of ways.  We would encourage electronic reporting wherever possible and have set up an electronic form that you can find by clicking here.  Alternatively, you can download a copy of the form, along with a guidance sheet below and email to, or post in the internal post to Sustainability Service, Facilities Directorate Building, Cloberry Street, Leeds, LS2 9BT. We will post the results of the survey on our website later in the spring.

Happy Surveying!

Environmental Management System

Our Environmental Management System (EMS) is externally accredited to ISO 14001: 2015 (click here to view our certificate) and supports our Environmental Policy.  It includes all activities conducted on the city campus, on our residential sites and sports and conferencing facilities.  Our Environmental Policy ensures we remain committed to conducting our activities and operations in an environmentally responsible manner to reflect best environmental practice. A training module is available to all staff and can be accessed here.

Accessing EMS documentation

All EMS operational documentation can be downloaded by following the links below:

EMS documents (including system documents) are stored electronically on a system called EQMS.  To access this, please follow the instructions here. They explain how to access and use the EQMS software. Using your usual university login details, you can log into the system here.  If you have any problems with using the EQMS system, please email

Once in the system the EMS documentation is available on the left of the screen via the document tree. Essential documentation is within the Environmental Management System folder.

To see all of our Standards, visit our Policies and Standards page here



A general overview of the EMS is now available on the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) and should be completed by all University Staff. The training module can be accessed here.


The University of Leeds has constantly improved recycling rates through innovative contracts and creative methods of engaging with our staff and student population. 

Our waste & recycling contract with AWM is set up for the majority of waste and recycling services at the University. Our segregated recycling has remained at 40% over the last 6 years and the contract has set performance KPIs to increase segregated recycling from 40 – 60% over a 3-year period.   Due to the way that the recycling industry works, we need to ensure that our bins contain the correct recyclates.  The text and image below explain exactly what must go into each bin and what can’t go into those bins:

  • Paper and card – we ask not to put corrugated card or coffee cups into this bin. It contaminates the waste stream and makes recovery very difficult
  • Plastics – Please don’t put Tetra Pak, crisp packets or thin plastic films into this bin as they are usually made of composite (bonded) materials which are practically impossible to separate. They should be disposed via the general waste bins.
  • Glass – Most glass is accepted, but please remember not to put Pyrex (microwave dishes, etc.) into this bin.
  • Metals – Most metals are fine in this bin, with the exception of aerosols.  The legislation has changed and these should be disposed of as hazardous waste. Please use the general waste bins for these as we have agreed with AWM to recover them and dispose on our behalf in line with regulatory requirements.
  • Food – Please don’t add compostable cups, dishes, cutlery, etc. including wooden items. Food goes to Anaerobic Digestion rather than to compost, so any non-food material is removed and sent for Waste to Energy Recovery.  Please put compostable materials into the general waste bins.
  • General waste –   Consider whether it can go into the other bins first and only do is as a last resort.

Finally, if you have a particular type of material, or it is too large for the bins, always ask yourself if you can reuse first locally, or using the reuse@leeds system to reuse across the University.  If not, you can check our A-Z here to find the material and guidance.  If you have any questions or need any further guidance, please contact

Click on the image below to see our new bin labels.

Sustainable Procurement

With annual purchasing expenditure around £140 million, we can have a significant positive impact via the choices we make around purchasing at the University. We work closely with our purchasing team to identify opportunities and manage key impacts. We ensure that sustainability is included in the assessment of all University contracts and when there is high risk or potential opportunity the service works with contract managers to find ways to incorporate sustainability into the ITT and specification.

Of course, when dealing with large companies, framework contracts, or specialised equipment there can be severe limitation of what we can achieve by ourselves. As a result we actively work with colleagues in our local purchasing consortia and seek to develop partnerships that can help with our key challenges. Our recent sign up to Electronics Watch is an example of how we are working in partnership with EU buyers and Electronics Watch with the aim of having a positive influence on labour issues associated with the electronics industry.

We are a Fair Trade University and seek to continuously identify new opportunities to increase ethical purchasing. We are in the process of providing Fair Wear accredited Fairtrade Uniforms for all staff and we would love to hear any more ideas you might have.

Over the next 5 months we will be working in collaboration with our purchasing team to achieve level 4 of the Flexible Framework  with the aim of standardising our systems and truly embedding sustainability into our purchasing.

Our Sustainable Procurement Standard explains our key requirements, objectives and action plan for embedding sustainability into purchasing at the University.



Acescitas comnis sinum

As one of the largest landowners in Leeds, the University has a responsibility to take biodiversity seriously.  With a diverse combination of urban areas, residential sites, woodland and sports grounds, we maintain a variety of habitats to meet user needs across the city.  In 2011, with the introduction of our first Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP), we have worked with a number of partners both internally and externally to ensure that we continue to have a net positive effect on the biodiversity of our estate.

Our Approach

It is becoming more important that all public bodies, including universities, plan for and consider biodiversity on their grounds. In its ‘Sustainable Development in Higher Education’ strategy the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) committed to promote sustainable estates management, including biodiversity. At the same time the Learning and Skills Council’s (LSC) strategy ‘From Here to Sustainability’ also identifies biodiversity as a key part of their principles and actions. The Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC) identify nine benefits for universities that have an active biodiversity agenda:

  • Improved reputation and green image
  • Potential to develop partnerships between staff and students
  • Opportunities for education and curriculum greening
  • Campus contribution to healthy living and wellbeing
  • Enhanced volunteering opportunities for students

In 2016 we launched our new ‘Biodiversity Standard‘ which builds on the previous plan and provides an overarching strategy for how we manage all of our properties as well as strengthening our position in the city and across the sector as exemplars of urban biodiversity practices.  We launched a revised version of our campus Biodiversity Action Plan for the city campus in May 2017.  This is largely an operational progress document, which is monitored through the Biodiversity Group.  The campus plan can be viewed here.


Carbon Management


The University of Leeds has internationally recognized research into mitigating climate change and we take our University carbon footprint seriously. We are working to reduce our impact and have set an ambitious target to reduce our carbon emissions by 35% by 2020, using our 2005/06 emissions as a baseline. This stems from the fourth theme of our strategy to make the most of our resources. Through reducing our carbon emissions and improving our energy efficiency, we aim to become a low carbon University.

We have a University Carbon Management Plan that is compliant with the Carbon Trust and Capital Investment Framework requirements which sets out how we are to achieve this. In addition to the Carbon Management Plan which manages scope 1 & 2 emissions, we use the University Environmental Management System to set targets related to Scope 3 emissions.


Carbon Management Plan

2019 Carbon Management Plan Objectives

An update of our annual performance, including Scope 1, 2 & 3 emissions, is included in our Annual Sustainability Report.


The University maintains an annual fund for ad-hoc replacement of small equipment that is proven to deliver good carbon or water savings. If you believe you have equipment that can be replaced which will deliver financial pay-back within a 5 year period please get in touch as