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Come behind the scenes: Sorting waste is nothing new at SDU

In the basement of SDU, things like electronics waste can be sorted. Photo: Frederikke Malling

By: Frederikke Malling Hansen

Although at Gydehutten and the administration offices we have been accustomed to throwing everything from sandwich leftovers and coffee cups to old paper notes into the same bin, in SDU’s basements and back hallways waste has been sorted into not just five but 32 fractions. 

‘Well, behind the scenes we’ve been sorting concrete, lights, wood and furniture for many years. In fact, there’s a whole list,’ says Jan Jeppesen, an officer from Technical Services. 

Read more: Affaldssorteringen nytter noget - Odense starter på mandag (only Danish version available)

Over the three years that he has been employed, waste has been sorted and put into a system of many fractions. For that reason, the five new fractions also mean a much greater workload. 

‘It’s extra work. I mean, you could say that we just put everything down a hole before, into a bin. That’s how easy it was. Now we’re making demands on the users, but also on ourselves,’ says Jan Jeppesen further.

A sorting strategy that has been a long time coming 

The sorting of waste was launched at the end of January, but it has been a project and ambition that has been in the pipeline for a long time. ‘It goes all the way back to when SDU started focusing more on sustainability, and then later with the Climate Plan where waste was really something that got a lot of attention. It’s something everyone can relate to, that you can contribute to yourself. It’s also something you do at home, so it’s pretty strange that when you’re at the University you just throw everything into general waste,’ says Malene Skovbakke, project manager at Technical Services.

SDU’s new waste sorting scheme is a major project that has been in development for a long time. Back in May 2020, 25 waste stations were set up at NAT as part of a pilot project. Due to COVID-19 lockdowns, it was over a year before things were fully operational again and there was a chance to see how it worked. However, both Jan Jeppesen and Malene Skovbakke agree that the timing is very good now, three years later. It is not such a bad thing that people hear about the roll-out, while at the same time they have had time to practice a little at home before waste sorting has now come to SDU. 

In addition, Malene Skovbakke says that it has worked out particularly well because Odense Municipality now has five well-established fractions, and people are prepared to sort waste into the correct fractions.

But aside from the good timing and users being ready to bring their good habits with them to their place of work and study, it also sends a strong signal that it can be outwardly seen that SDU is a university that takes responsibility for its waste. 

‘I think it’s a strong signal of our intentions, and it’s also familiar from how we do things at home, which I think for many people will make it seem very natural. We’ll have to get used to going a little further to the bins, but we hope that people will see it as something positive and a way of contributing to the climate work, and that we’re actually doing some good at SDU,’ says Malene Skovbakke.

Of the thirty-two fractions, for a long time SDU has been sorting waste into categories such as electronics waste, clinical risk waste such as needles and laboratory animals, used toner cartridges and furniture that is either unusable and needs to be recycled into new products or such as more recently, when a great deal of furniture was donated to Ukraine. 

Read more: New collaboration: Tables and chairs from SDU Slagelse are to be donated to Ukraine and Romania  

It is really nothing new that at SDU waste should be thought of as a resource with many lives, but it is new for the many thousands of users who set foot on campus every day and who can now make sorting waste a good habit and do something good for the climate. 


Last Updated 06.03.2023