6R widens its reach: Reducing plastics use across campus and at home

by | Jun 2, 2023 | Environmental Sustainability (ES), Guest Authors | 0 comments

6R stands for Review, Reduce, Reuse, Refill, Replace, Recycle. The original 6R guide for labs was developed by a team led by Dr Maggy Fostier and Dr Ruth Grady to reduce plastic use in the laboratory practical classes of the School of Biological Sciences. It provides a poster with broad principles, followed with a full guide containing information, tips, examples and a quantification template.

The 6R approach has proven to be simple and effective; before COVID, it was applied to 12 classes and saved 37,000 plastic items and £3000 every year! The Faculty is now working with staff and students to review all their practical classes and apply the 6R principles to our research laboratories.

6R can be adapted to any setting and leads to quick impact. Working with two graduate students in 2020, the 6R guide for home and campus was created. Hosted on a google doc, there is allowance for regular revisions to keep up with rapid changes, e.g. the supermarket offerings around recycling soft plastics and plastic films, and now a section on microplastics.

To help with dissemination, we have launched a 6R student champion scheme (via the volunteer hub). Our volunteers can update or promote the 6R guide, adapt it to new settings and even translate it! They can also help with analysing 6R impact survey data and writing blogs for the ES Good Newsletter.

May 2022 saw the launch of our first 6R roadshow campaign. Using little plastic-facts teasers, the 6R champions started many conversations. Over the course of four events on campus, 206 people downloaded the 6R guide with 90% of attendants not aware that so much recycling was possible. This academic year, we ran five campus events and took part in the Science X festival reaching out to young children and their parents. More than 200 people downloaded our guide. Will you be the next one?

We will next start collaborating with the Manchester Environmental Education Network (MEEN) to bring 6R to local schools, starting at the Connell College Youth Sustainability Conference and Green Careers Fair on July 3rd. A project student will also develop a 6R campaign aimed at primary school in 2023-24.

The 6R guides to manage plastics sustainably in labs and at home and on campus are part of the 50,000 actions students and staff can take to become more sustainable. Have a go: 6R is easy and effective.

For any queries, please contact Maggy

To find out more about Environmental Sustainability: visit the Faculty’s intranet pagewebsite or contact srbmh@manchester.ac.uk. For more information on Environmental Sustainability at the University watch this short film or visit their website