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Award winner helps to improve our environment

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In this edition of Dialogue Magazine, we’re featuring another one of the amazing winners of our Professional Services: Inspiring the Extraordinary Awards.

This month, we’re focusing on someone who’s done a huge amount to reduce the University’s environmental impact.

Professor Richard Crisp and Linda Joyce
Professor Richard Crisp and Linda Joyce

Linda Joyce picked up the Making a Difference to the Environment and Sustainability award to recognise her work to mitigate the impact of our activities on the environment.

Linda works in Procurement Services and as part of her job, always looks for new ways to reduce our environmental impact while encouraging others along the way too.

Linda said: “Part of my work is with our catering, leisure and retail services. I work with colleagues to put contracts in place and make sure they’re performing in the best possible way.

A few years ago, I noticed some issues in a contract for catering disposables - things like plastic cutlery, cups and containers. Our waste provider couldn’t recycle them as they were contaminated, and a number of things needed changing in a few contracts to keep up with changing legislation.

“We also signed a pledge with Durham County Council to reduce single use plastics in 2019, so all of this led me to write a paper for UEC proposing a change from using plastic to compostable cups."

Continuing change

Linda added: “Following on from that, we made a number of further changes, including moving away from plastic bottles in vending machines and cafés.

“Not only does all this change the type and the amount of waste we create, but it also helps save money. It’s often more beneficial to use materials like aluminium for drinks cans as recycling plastics was difficult. But things are beginning to change again – it’s why you see milk bottles with white tops now as the dye has been removed to make them more easily recyclable.

“We’ve now moved on even further, reducing the need for single-use containers towards cups that we can re-use time and time again. For example, all students now receive a free water bottle and re-usable cup to avoid having to throw plastic or even cardboard cups away.

“We’ve done a lot but it’s still a work in progress. If there’s one thing I’d say to people to improve our environmental impact, it’d be to notice what we do every day and rethink our actions a little. It’s not always easy to change but sometimes people need to be shown the impacts we have.”

Environmental Champion

Linda also plays another key role by being an Environmental Champion at the University. Even so, she said that her nomination for a PS award came as shock.

“I was gobsmacked. I saw the email come through and I was absolutely blown away. You just do your job and don’t expect to get anything like this, so I was really surprised.

“And when I actually won the award… I was an absolute wreck! I can’t really explain but it meant such a lot to me. The work wasn’t easy, but in the end to be nominated and win the award just shows there were people willing me on.

“I’ve put the certificate and trophy, and even the menu from the event in the office for people to see.

It meant so much to be recognised, so if you think that someone’s done something that deserves a nomination, just remember it and consider nominating them for next year’s awards.

The Inspiring the Extraordinary Awards event in January offered the opportunity to recognise the outstanding achievements of colleagues in Professional Services. 

This year, 346 colleagues were nominated for an award and around 130 members of staff, including the Vice-Chancellor and members of UEC, gathered to celebrate the work of colleagues and mark their achievements at an event in January. 

Find out more and watch a video of this year’s awards.



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