Case Studies

//Case Studies
Case Studies2019-11-11T17:27:54+00:00

The UCC Green Library Team have created a guide to illustrate their activities as part of the “Love our Library” campaign.  You can access the guide at this link.

New Sustainable Print Policy launched

The Procurement office in UCC have been huge champions of Green Campus over the last number of years, with Sustainability included within the UCC Procurement Strategy and sustainability criteria being included within many of the contract renewals that have taken place. In June of this year, the University Management Team and Finance Committee approved a new Sustainable Print Management Policy which was implemented in September 2019. Printing impacts the environment in terms of the resources used (paper, ink energy) and also the waste electronic equipment that arises at the end of life of printers. Desktop printers also impact the air quality within offices.

The new printing system will see a transition from old desktop printers to new, more efficient, networked multi-function devices. The new printers that are about to be rolled out across campus belong to the Canon E-Q80 range, so called because 80% of the product’s material weight comes from reused material. “Follow-me printing” will reduce the likelihood of printing by accident. The new managed system will see UCC move from “consumer” to “user”, a key component in transitioning to a more circular economy.

Research Thesis Submissions go Digital

In September 2019, UCC Graduate Studies Office announced that research thesis submission is going digital. From January 6th 2020, research graduate students will be able to submit their theses online, via google docs. The electronic process will replace current paper-based practice which requires each
research student to submit two soft-bound theses for examination and one final hardbound thesis to the Graduate Studies Office. The new process will save the students €230 each in printing costs. Considering the current system where students submit two soft bound and one hard bound version of their thesis, the paper savings will be enormous; the graduate studies office estimate that these paper saving may be in the region of 400,000 sheets of paper a year.

UCC Green Campus and KSG Launch Ireland’s first Single-Use Plastic Free Café

In September 2018, UCC Green Campus Committee, in collaboration with KSG (the university’s contracted food service provider) officially launched the Bio Green Café, Ireland’s first single-use plastic free café.   The move followed 2017’s ban on disposable cups in the University’s Boole Library building and KSGs agreement to offer discounts to staff and students using reusable cups.  It coincided with the UCC Student Union obtaining funding from the Southern Region Waste Management Office to give a free reusable cup to all incoming first year students.   The café was a major contributing factor to UCC being ranked number 1 University in the world for SDG 12: Sustainable Consumption and Production in the Times Higher Education Impact Ranking 2019.


The UCC Bio Green Café is a demonstration of the successful design and operation of a single-use plastic free café.   It is a case study in how green procurement, stakeholder engagement and environmental awareness and education can contribute to bringing about a complete redesign in the provision of a service.  Single-use plastic has been eliminated from all front- and back-of-house activities.

Front of house, water and other beverages are available in tin cans or glass bottles.  There are three options for customers dining in the café:

>Eat-in on ceramic tableware

>Take away – bring your own lunchbox/cup/bottle

>Take away – purchase compostable cups/lunchboxes at a cost.

The compostable takeaway option is hidden from view, and therefore only available if customers specifically request it.

Back of house changes required a complete review of suppliers and engagement with current/new suppliers to either

  1. Provide stock in reusable containers or paper packaging
  2. If single-use plastic was a requirement for health and safety reasons, the supplier would deliver the item in plastic, remove the plastic onsite and take it away with them.

A complete redesign of the café infrastructure was also undertaken to ensure that the facilities supported the new service being provided.  A custom segregated bin system was installed with clear labelling referring to the specific products on sale in that café.  A weighing station was installed next to the bins, enabling staff to weigh the different types of waste being produced and monitor the success of the initiative.  A combined cup-washing system and water-refilling station was installed so that customers could wash their own reusable mug and fill their own bottles.

Environmental Benefit

In the first three months of operation, the Bio Green Café saw over 20,000 pieces of disposable items avoided.  Waste tonnage has reduced by 95%.  The scalability and replicability of this project means that the potential environmental benefit is enormous.

The café was always intended as a real-life experiment into how a catering service could be redesigned to eliminate single-use plastics.  The parts of the redesign that are scaleable, have now been scaled up across the university.  For example, all University restaurants now give the option of bringing your own lunchbox.  Across campus, plastic bottles are being eliminated from catering at conferences and meetings.   KSG have installed an Infinity Water System, which will enable glass bottle refills reducing the number of plastic bottles by 10,000 per year.

Social Benefit

The “plastics crisis” together with climate breakdown, is one of the greatest environmental and social challenges of our time.  On the week of the launch, staff and students organised a “Litter Pick” in conjunction with Clean Coasts at the Lee Fields in Cork City.

In terms of awareness and educational value, th