Waste and Recycling

This section is based on the latest available data from the Estates Management Record (EMR), which is made publicly available by the Higher Education Statistics Agency, HESA.

Waste composted or anaerobically digested are included as valid approaches to the increase in more sustainable waste management and therefore the figures are included in the total recycled.

Recycling and Reusing

Score 50%

The percentage waste recycled, composted or anaerobically digested, excluding construction waste (that classified as “other” in the EMR):

 ÷ ( EWMT - EOWMT )

As in previous years, universities will be scored by banding values into groups.

Waste mass per head

Score 50%

Waste mass equates to the total waste generated, including wastes that are classified as recycling. Reducing the total waste a university produces is imperative to the aim of reduction in associated carbon emissions and the impacts of resource management when whole-life-cycle costs are factored.

Waste mass also excludes construction waste, however, other sections of the methodology include questions around the commitment, action and performance of reducing construction and refurbishment waste.

‘Per head’ Staff and student numbers are calculated as Full Time Equivalents (FTE). This is a standard method used by universities to factor in part time study and work. Students and staff employed by research are also included in our calculation.

The FTE total is taken as the sum of student, research and staff FTE.


As in previous years, universities will be scored by banding values into groups.

Interpretation notes

HESA now provides strict rules for data submission around nulls and zero. Universities are instructed to use null when they do not have the data, and are alerted to the fact that this will mean totals are not calculated by HESA.

People & Planet has interpreted nulls from the viewpoint that points must be earned through transparency and proof.

Some of the waste categories are new this year and several universities returned null values (e.g. anaerobic digestion). We will interpret nulls as zeros in these fields.

The exclusion of construction waste is an important stabiliser because it has such a large impact on the total waste and recycling figures. If a university has not submitted construction waste figures but has submitted construction waste recycling, both figures will be zeroed so as not to skew the percentage recycled artificially high.

Universities that omitted total waste figures will result in a zero score for both parts.

How does People & Planet calculate its scoring bands?

In sections taken from the Higher Education Statistics Agency Estates Management Record (HESA EMR), People & Planet places universities that report the EMR into discrete scoring bands. The boundaries of these scoring bands are set by People & Planet. We take into account continuity with last year’s boundaries, distribution of universities across the bands, and where the data permits, we try to define a boundary where there is a relatively large gap between values.

The purpose of the University League is to drive continual improvement in sustainability practices. Therefore boundaries would only be adjusted towards lower standards in exceptional situations; generally to score well each year requires continual improvement, and to score better requires advancing sustainability faster than other universities.

The scoring bands for the previous edition of the People & Planet University League will be published with the announcement of the new set of methodology each April. In sector feedback universities have stated that knowing the previous year’s scoring band boundaries would be useful, however it should be noted these are likely to change and should only be seen as a rough guide.

Scoring bands for Question 1 on % recycled/anaerobically digested/ composted waste

% recycled/anaerobically digested/ composted waste










≥ 0


Scoring bands for Question 2 on Waste mass per head score

Waste Mass per Head (kg)












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