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The world’s population is growing and prosperity is on the rise. This is creating a greater demand for raw materials and greater waste production, something which is incompatible with the planet's carrying capacity, the Paris climate targets and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Both producers and consumers will therefore have to make more efficient use of raw materials. That is why we are avoiding the avoidable, extending service life where possible and encouraging reuse and recycling both when we buy our products and at the end of their service life(waste processing). We have also drawn up six objectives.

Objectives and current situation

A 25% reduction of the footprint of the products and services we purchase

In 2019, we conducted a baseline measurement and found that the products and services we had purchased had a footprint of: 21,934 tonnes of CO2 equivalent. We will conduct a second measurement in 2026. In 2022, the UvA entered into a new contract with the waste management company Seenons. One of the things we have agreed with them is that they will draw up improvement plans to help us achieve this objective. In 2023, we will work on a better safeguarding of sustainability in our procurement processes.

25% reduction of raw materials consumption by 2026

We are measuring the amount of incinerated and recyclable waste to establish our progress towards this objective. In 2019, we disposed of a total of 1020 tonnes of waste. The figure for 2022 was 960 tonnes, down roughly 6% on the baseline measurement conducted in 2019. The sharp fall in 2020 and 2021 was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the coming years, we will continue to work on further reducing our raw materials consumption.

We launched a system for the separate collection of waste flows in 2022. That resulted in a rise in the amount of recycled waste from 19% in 2019 to 36% in 2022. 

50% reduction of paper use and number of printers at the UvA by 2026, and procurement of our own recycled paper (2026)

This is an overview of paper use based on the number of sheets of A4 paper. The sharp fall in 2020 and 2021 was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is also striking that in 2022, when the UvA was fully up and running again, paper use remained a good 70% lower than in 2019.  Therefore, it appears that the envisaged reduction of paper use has been achieved.

A 25% reduction of purchasing of new furniture by extending the lifespan of furniture (and, where possible, purchasing reused furniture)

No data for this objective are available at present; the UvA is exploring ways of obtaining data in relation to this in consultation with suppliers.

A 25% reduction of use of disposables (including coffee cups) by 2026

We aim to achieve a 25% reduction of the use of disposable items (including coffee cups) by 2026 compared with 2019. We used 5.1 million coffee cups in 2019. Our objective is to reduce this to 3.8 million by 2026. The sharp fall in 2020 and 2021 was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2022, the figure stood at 3.0 million coffee cups, meaning that use has fallen by about 42% compared with 2019. Staff members or students had their own cups for 11% of the drinks obtained from vending machines in 2022.

From 2023, we will remove sugar sachets, milk pots and stirrers from as many vending machines as possible.

From 2024, cups and packaging materials in the canteens will have to be reused.

The UvA has been gaining a better insight into the quantities of chemicals and cleaning products at each location since 2021.

Based on that insight, a plan will be drawn up and implemented in order, where possible, to reduce the use of the substances that cause the greatest harm to the environment and to health.

The Faculty of Science (FNWI) laboratories use the most chemicals. The impact of those chemicals, amounting to 117.8 tonnes of CO2 equivalent, has been identified for 2021. Liquid nitrogen and solvents accounted for 94% of that impact in 2021. In the years ahead, we will monitor how much liquid nitrogen and solvents are used and try to reduce that use. 

375 tonnes of liquid nitrogen were used at the Faculty of Science in 2021. The figure for 2022 was 314 tonnes, a decrease of 16%. When it comes to the use of solvents, at present we only know the figure for 2021, when nine tonnes were used.

Status of other envisaged measures

Read more about the measures in the White Paper on Sustainability (PDF, 19 pages).