(WARPit) is an online reuse platform that makes it easy for staff to get, give and loan surplus assets across the university.

Exeter staff help the environment by reusing hundreds of unwanted items

A platform that has encouraged hundreds of University of Exeter staff members to reuse unwanted items in order to help the environment is celebrating its first anniversary.

The Waste Action Reuse Portal (WARPit) is an online reuse platform that makes it easy for staff to get, give and loan surplus assets across the university.

It focuses on the sustainability of the university’s waste management and enables the university to make the most of its resources by encouraging staff to swap items between themselves, rather than send them to landfill or recycling.

The initiative was introduced to the University of Exeter last year by the Sustainability team and Facilities Management agreed to provide a free transport service to encourage the movement of this equipment between locations.  

Instead of disposing of items, the university’s team of Facilities Assistants (Porters) now assess the items upon collection and store what they think is in good enough condition to be reused. These items are then uploaded it to WARPit to advertise to staff.

There are currently 489 members of staff using the website and items can include anything from desks and office furniture, to ring binders and office stationery.

As well as resulting in a reduction in waste, the initiative has also led to cost savings within departments as disposal costs and unnecessary procurement spend has been reduced.

Every item reused also saves on carbon emissions because a new item does not have to be purchased.

WARPit tracks all sale and donations through the system, giving full traceability and a range of financial and environmental data to help understand how it is improving the university’s environmental impact. Its sophisticated and established references and methods give each item a carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) value (kg).

Over the last 12 months, WARPit data shows the initiative helped avoid 8,617kg of waste and saved 25,223kg of CO2, which is the equivalent of planting 34 trees or removing 10 cars off the road. The savings from the year totalled at £64,891.

For the items that cannot be stored, or are just at end of life and cannot be reused, the team of Facilities Assistants break these down into recyclable materials. A desk, for example, would be split into wooden top and metal legs. These recyclable materials are then transported to the relevant local recycling centre in a bulk load.

“There is a lot of work going on behind the scenes to adhere to the waste hierarchy (prevent, reuse, recycle, recovery, disposal). We don’t ‘dump’ or landfill anything,” says Assistant Facilities Operations Manager, Anthony Partridge.

“WARPit was initially trialled to help lessen the pressure of Facilities Management needing to be the middle man, to address storage space issues and to provide a platform for staff to be able to swap items between themselves (rather than just sending it for disposal) and to encourage a positive attitude change towards how we all deal with our waste.

“The success of WARPit is really down to everyone using it. There are plenty of members who are helping reuse lots of furniture either by uploading their own items, claiming some for reuse or posting a wish list of what they’re looking for.

“Of course the Facilities Assistants themselves are the key to this success and work hard to support the initiative by moving the often large items around campus, attempting to store as many unwanted items as they can and by promoting the service to the staff they work with.”

Due to the success of the 12 month trial, WARPit is now being continued, and Anthony is hoping that moving forward more staff will become involved. He is also looking to potentially include other local organisations and charities in the initiative.

Date: 23 August 2019

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