THE SUN shone on a crips winter's day as the Green Flag was raised at Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT) last Wednesday, making the institute only the fourth college in Ireland to have achieved a Green Flag for Campuses.
The Green- Campus Programme is based on the highly successful Green-Schools programme and is operated in Ireland by An Taisce on behalf of the Foundation for Environmental Education.
The awarding of the Green Flag follows diligent work undertaken by the GreenCampus committee made up of representatives from Dundalk Institute of Technology staff and students.
The work was driven by the Green- Campus commiittee which focused on the areas of waste, travel and energy, with further smaller scale projects undertaken on themes of Biodiversity and Water. The committee receives strong support from senior management at DkIT and is made up of students and staff from academic, library and buildings management along with representation from external catering contractors.
A comprehensive environmental review followed the formation of the Green- Campus committee in 2010.
One startling discovery was that 9,600 disposable coffee cups were entering the waste stream on a weekly basis. Disposable coffee cups are not recyclable and so this quantity of 9,600 cups was going directly to landfill on a weekly basis from DkIT.
An awareness programme was initiated by the Green- Campus committee to promote the use of reusable mugs and to highlight the fact that coffee cups are not recyclable. A project with a local secondary school saw the creation of a Christmas tree made from disposable coffee cups to be put on display in the college to highlight the issue of cups to landfill.
Students on an entrepreneurship module in DkIT investigated the development of a reusable branded cup. The committee entered into extensive talks with the college catering contractor to discuss the introduction of degradable single use cups that would break down in certain conditions. A pilot of this began in September 2012.
Other iniatives include an awareness campaign focussing on cigarette butt littering on campus. Strong links were made between the DkIT committee and the local community; the committee carried out clean ups in local estates and worked on food growing projects with a local Simon/Rehab Care project among other projects.