Skip to main content

Trinity College Dublin, The University of Dublin

Trinity Menu Trinity Search

Catering supports roll-out of plastic-free Trinity

Published June 25th, 2018

Since achieving its Green Flag status in 2013, Trinity has been working hard to deliver on its commitment to become more sustainable by 2020.

Lots of good work has already been done towards achieving this goal, such as the fact that Trinity has improved its energy efficiency by 21% since 2006. Now another new initiative will further contribute to Trinity’s green status.

Plastic-free Trinity aims to replace or eliminate disposable plastics and to phase out disposable plastic containers and utensils over the next two years.

Santa Barbara
It is the brainchild of former student Kezia Wright who got the idea when she was studying in UC Santa Barbara for a year. They had gone plastic free on that campus and Kezia thought – why can’t be do that in Trinity?

On her return to college she approached Sustainability Adviser Michele Hallahan and Registrar Paula Murphy to try get the issue off the ground.

Sustainability Advisor Michele Hallahan takes up the story. “We went and met with Buttery, Perch, Pav, Science Gallery, Aramark in Hamilton and the Students’ Union shop. We asked them would they be willing to embrace the issue – I don’t think there was any objection.”

One of the main services to be affected by a plastic-free Trinity are the Catering Department, which is part of the Commercial Revenue Unit. Catering Manager Moira O’Brien explains some of the changes they have made as a result.

“We have eliminated plastic straws, we provide compostable water tumblers in the Buttery and we are currently sourcing compostable cutlery, takeaway containers and coffee cups.” However it hasn’t been a completely seamless transition.

“The cost of compostable alternatives is hugely expensive,” says Moira, “and will likely increase our costs of disposables by approximately 80% next year. Some of these items are also difficult to source or there can be delays in getting stock delivered. When we consider any potential plans to eliminate bottled cold drinks, there will be considerations around how this will impact our financial performance.”

Trinity Ball
And it’s not stopping there, according to Michele. “We’re tackling other things too – we want to talk to MCD about the Trinity series of gigs and the Trinity Ball, to plan for next year. We would like to have reusable glasses somehow."

The tide has turned, she says, when it comes to sustainability. People now know they can't sit back and do nothing.

“Our erosion of nature over the past century, as evidenced by plastics in our oceans, depleted resources, climate change and an accelerating loss of wildlife and biodiversity in Ireland and globally, cannot remain unchecked.

“Trinity's participation in highlighting sustainability issues and educating our campus about such topics is serving to raise awareness of environmental protection and to drive community involvement in addressing our global problems.”

  • Trinity joined the International Sustainable Campuses Network (ISCN) in February this year to further its commitment to sustainability and the Provost was a guest speaker at their recent conference in June.