Re-use for Good

Single-use plastics are out, reusables are in! Re-use for Good is proud to have phased out single-use plastic beverage bottles from all SFU campuses. Join us in sending the message that single-use plastics belong in the past by BYOB (bring your own bottle). Enjoy fresh water on tap at one of our 130 water refill stations across all three campuses.

Navigation

Choose to Re-use for Good

Due to health and safety concerns regarding COVID-19, SFU has temporarily paused the GoGreen container and reusable cutlery pilot programs until further notice. For more information about SFU's response to the COVID-19 outbreak please click here.

Over 1 million single-use cups and plastic bottles are disposed of each year at SFU. Currently, only 9% of plastics are recycled in Canada and public concern is quickly growing about the impact of single-use products, especially plastics. SFU is spearheading change with the ongoing work of Re-use for Good.

Re-use for Good is an SFU Zero Waste Initiative to implement and promote reusable alternatives to single-use plastics and disposable products (SUPPs). While building infrastructure for reusable alternatives, Re-use for Good is reducing the quantity of SUPPs where possible across all dining locations.

Re-use for Good is leading the efforts to reach SFU’s 2025 Sustainability Target #4: Reduce operational waste by 10% despite growth, expansion, and construction by 2025. This includes educating the SFU community on the circular economy and waste reduction while eliminating SUPPs from all SFU campuses. All goals and targets of the Strategic Sustainability Plan 2020 - 2025 prioritize climate action while contributing to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. 

There are four parts to Re-use for Good

 

1. Improving campus infrastructure for reusables; like increasing water bottle refill stations and adding more dishwashers;

 

2. Providing the community with more reusable alternatives; like GoGreen take-out boxes, converting to reusable cutlery, rescuing lost water bottles, and offering zero-waste catering and events services;

 

3. Raising awareness about the impacts of single-use plastics and products; through community-based consultation, and engagement events; and ultimately,

 

4. Reducing unnecessary single-use plastics and other disposables on all campuses.

Current Progress

2019 - 2020 

During the Fall 2019 Semester, SFU launched Re-use for Good by reducing unnecessary plastic utensils and straws, offering reusable water bottles in vending machines, and introducing the GoGreen container exchange for take-out foods. Re-use for Good also eliminated plastic bags and made reusable bags available instead at the Bookstore & Spirit Shop and eliminated any single-use plastic signage.

These bold actions will save about 100,000 plastic bags and at least 260,000 plastic bottles each year (these numbers are estimates based on average data from 2019, not including individual campus operators). 

The Re-use for Good initiative is expanding its reusable services while continuing to reduce SUPPs from operations where possible. Ongoing work includes continued accessibility training with front-line staff and vendors, mug share and Tumblershare expansions. 

During COVID-19, SFU has temporarily paused the GoGreen container and reusable cutlery pilot programs until further notice. The Re-use for Good team is taking the time to reflect on key learnings and reintroduce enhanced reusable programs when appropriate. 

2021 

In early 2021, SFU phased out single-use plastic beverage bottles in vending and dining areas. This was advocated for and supported by the work of the student club, Ban the Bottle SFU. Re-use for Good and Ban the Bottle SFU collaborated with Facilities Services to expand water bottle refill stations access. SFU is proud to now have 130 stations across all three campuses which makes SFU one of the top universities in British Columbia for water refill station access. Get involved by resolving to BYOB (bring your own bottle) to help reduce our SFU community’s reliance on single-use plastics. 

Additionally, we continue to work with the constituency group, SFU Disability and Neurodiversity Alliance (DNA), to source accessible reusable bottle alternatives that will be available on our campuses during the Fall 2021 semester.

Re-use for Good thanks the SFSS and GSS for their support and leadership in this initiative. Review the motions of support for the elimination of single-use plastic water bottles from the SFSS and the GSS

Note: Single-use water bottles will still be available for purchase at dining locations for those who need them - no questions asked. 

Phase one details

During the Fall 2019 Semester SFU is launched Re-use for Good by reducing unnecessary plastic utensils and straws, offering re-usable water bottles in vending machines, and introducing the GoGreen container exchange for take-out foods. SFU also replaced plastic bags at the Bookstore & Spirit Shop with reusable ones and eliminating plastic for single-use signage.

Frequently Asked Questions

Got questions? Here are four requently asked questions about Re-use for Good. Click the button below to see a full list of frequently asked questions. Don't see your question? Please send any additional inquiries to reuse_for_good@sfu.ca.

What are some of the negative impacts of single-use plastics and products?

Single-use Plastics and Products (SUPPs) have serious impacts on our environment, marine species and even our own health. Over 1 million single-use cups and plastic bottles are disposed of each year at SFU with only around 9% of plastics being recycled in Canada. SUPPs also contribute to climate change because fossil fuels are consumed at nearly every stage of their lifecycle – extraction, production, transportation and disposal. Plastic manufacturing has negative impacts on neighbouring communities which are most often composed of marginalized groups that are already facing the worst impacts of climate change.

What infrastructure changes are being done to support this transition?

Re-use for Good is improving campus infrastructure for reusables by:

  • Providing the community with more reusable alternatives to SUPPs like reusable straws and bags at the SFU Bookstore, GoGreen containers for take-out food and metal cutlery;
  • Introducing wooden chopstick recycling bins in dining venues, supported by ChopValue;
  • Selling empty, ready-to-use reusable beverage bottles in vending machines at a low cost; and
  • Increasing the number of water bottle refill stations and dishwashers.

How can I get involved with the project?

Re-use for Good is a collective effort whereby faculty, staff, students, food service operators and suppliers all play an active role within their departments and work areas to identify and reduce SUPPs at SFU. Start by identifying SUPPs that you use both at school, work and in your personal life. Either eliminate them or switch to reusable alternatives. Participate in reusable programs such as the GoGreen container program and volunteer your time and/or feedback to Re-use for Good . 

What other SUPPS does SFU plan to eliminate in the future?

From Fall 2019 to Spring 2021, the Re-use for Good Initiative reduced or eliminated these SUPPs:

  • Plastic bags

  • Plastic bottles (water, juice, pop, etc.)

  • Plastic takeout containers 

  • Single-use utensils

  • Wood stir sticks

With students returning to campus in Fall 2021, Re-use for Good will address the following SUPPs:

  • Paper bags

  • Hot and cold beverage containers (coffee cups, etc.)

  • Plastic milkers and creamers at service stations 

  • Single-use coffee pods 

The Re-use for Good Task Force will continue to investigate how to eliminate other SUPPs through ongoing stakeholder engagement and research. The Re-use for Good Taskforce will continue to investigate how to eliminate other SUPPs through ongoing stakeholder engagement and research. 

An Important Note on Accessibility

Re-Use for Good is a zero-waste initiative that understands the importance of building an inclusive program that comprehensively addresses the intersectionality of sustainability efforts. 

This is of high importance because efforts to improve sustainability that ignore the existence of disabled people, is not environmentalism, but eco-ableism. Which is why Re-Use for Good has committed to not banning single use plastics, such as straws, but rather choosing to implement reusable alternatives like container programs, metal cutlery, and mugshare programs. 

To ensure that Re-Use for Good continues to be inclusive the initiative works with, co-creates, and receives feedback from disabled and neurodiverse individuals and constituency groups to help provide a disability justice lens to initiatives and programs.  This is an evolving process and we are always looking for ways to improve our programs and communications. Please email us if you have any recommendations. 

What we're doing

  • Hired a paid student employee to liaise with disabled and neurodiverse individuals and constituency groups across SFU
  • Working with the SFSS and GSS to offer a variety of recommended reusable products free of charge to students who need them
  • Providing the recommended plastic bendable straws and plastic water bottles in Dining Services on a no-questions-asked request basis
  • Introducing Re-use for Good reusable products at no charge
  • Strengthening our communications to raise awareness about building inclusive programs for our community members and external partners

Re-use for Good Reusable Products

Working with feedback and guidance from campus accessibility groups, Re-use for Good is distributing a range of reusable products at no charge. Various types of straws of different materials, reusable cutlery and reusable water bottles are offered.

Product locations will be updated in advance of the fall 2021 semester. 

Programs

GoGreen Container Program (on-hold due to COVID-19)

GoGreen is a reusable container program that helps reduce single-use plastics and products at Simon Fraser University. Launching as a pilot in September 2019, the program is an easy way for community members to enjoy take-out food on campus without the waste.

TumblerShare [on-hold due to COVID-19]

TumblerShare is a student-led mug share program designed to help SFU students and staff reduce the number of disposable coffee cups used on campus.

Living Lab Research

Sustainability and Management of Bioplastic Food Service Products is one of the Living Lab projects as part of SFU’s 2025 Sustainability Plan. Nadia Springle and her research team are addressing the need to research and inform decision-making on more sustainable single-use alternatives to petroleum-based plastics. The research team will offer recommendations surrounding policy, procurement and best practices for the use, management and disposal of bioplastic food service ware for SFU Ancillary Services.

Experiential Learning 

Re-use for Good is supporting experiential learning throughout the university. Ancillary Services and the Sustainability Office have partnered with courses across faculties, including the Centre for Sustainable Development and the School of Interactive Arts and Technology, to engage students in applying circular economy concepts practically at SFU.

Express N’ Go

SFU is home to the Lower Mainland’s first automated Express & Go recycling station. The station is reducing waste itself by being housed in a repurposed shipping container at SFU’s Burnaby campus. Students, faculty and staff at the Burnaby campus, and nearby UniverCity residents, can drop off their pre-bagged refundable beverage containers without the need for sorting and counting. Since October 2020, the recycling station has accepted more than 285,000 containers.

ChopValue 

SFU has partnered with ChopValue to not only recycle but upcycle the used chopsticks from our dining locations Mackenzie Café, Discovery Café and the Dining Hall. ChopValue provides chopstick recycling bins, collects the recycling regularly and then transforms the once wasted materials into homeware, decor and office furniture.

Contact

All stakeholders must be engaged to create inclusive, positive change. Faculty, staff, students, food service operators and suppliers all need to play an active role within their departments and areas to identify, reduce and eliminate SUPPs at SFU.

Get engaged; learn more and give us your feedback about Re-use for Good by completing the feedback and volunteer form below or sending your comments to reuse_for_good@sfu.ca.

Collaborators

The Re-use for Good initiative is being coordinated by a taskforce of change-makers comprised of student, faculty and staff who are working together to plan and implement the initiative. This includes:

Co-Curricular Record

This opportunity is recognized on the Co-Curricular Record (CCR), an official university document that tracks your co-curricular involvement at SFU. Learn more about the Co-Curricular Record at www.sfu.ca/students/get-involved/recognition/co-curricular-record.