Renewable energy, re-usable cups and chemical-free gardening are among the features of the ever-greener Penryn Campus.

The campus, which has cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40% since 2006, is now moving faster towards sustainability.

Changes include sourcing all electricity from renewable sources, installing solar panels and LED lights, buying 74% of food and drink in catering outlets from the south west and creating wildflower meadows to increase biodiversity.

The campus is shared by the University of Exeter and Falmouth University, which both declared a climate emergency earlier this year.

Tony Sanders, MD of FX Plus, which manages the campus, said: “We have always aimed towards more sustainable campuses and, over the last couple of years or so this work has been accelerating significantly.

“Sustainability is a key priority for our teams and individuals – from the small, such as eliminating plastic straws and turning ‘waste’ wood into benches, to the large, such as ambitious renewable energy projects and new build strategies.

“We are supporting the University of Exeter and Falmouth University to achieve their climate emergency strategies whilst also raising sustainability awareness and continuing our day-to-day business of providing excellent services to thousands of staff and students.”

Improvements include:

  • Removal of “local” bins and replacement with larger communal bins – estimated to save 45,000 plastic bags per year.
  • Re-usable cups given to 1,000 first-year students (paid for by charging 20p extra for each drink sold in a disposable cup). Disposable cup use is now down to 30%.
  • As well as using no chemicals, the grounds team try to reuse everything they can – branches have been turned into benches or bug hotels, granite and spare building material was used to create an amphitheatre.
  • Products made at campus catering outlets are in biodegradable or compostable packaging. Disposable cutlery is now made from corn starch or birchwood and metal cutlery is on offer as an eat-in option. An on-site composting facility is being considered.
  • New vending machines will stock cans only (rather than plastic bottles) and there is also a new reusable pint glass scheme (£1 deposit) at all gigs and student events.

Professor David Hosken, the University of Exeter’s pro vice-chancellor for Cornwall, said: “As a campus, we are working cohesively and passionately to achieve our sustainability goals.

“We have made great progress and I am pleased that our recent climate change working group recommendations have been received positively. We are all in this together for the long term.”

Peter Cox, Falmouth University’s chief operating officer, said: “Falmouth University recognises the serious threat that climate change poses to the environment and communities, both locally and globally.”