Flinders University Library recycling and re-use initiatives

By Liz Walkley Hall and Tanya Prendergast

Flinders University’s Bold Ideas, Brighter Future: Sustainability Plan to 2025 speaks to the opportunity and obligation we all have for the future of the planet. The University plan documents the scale of this ambition, some of which is already being realised including becoming home to one of South Australia’s largest solar arrays.  

The University’s sustainability projects support large and local scale on campus initiatives to create positive change, however it is understanding that people are the key to success that has shaped thinking in the library. 

By giving library staff agency to enact local changes, we are supporting the ethos of  “what we do locally benefits globally”. One of the key ways the Library is engaging with this is through resource recovery. From the usual suspects (such as paper based recycling) that are likely to be found in every library, to e-waste recovery, batteries and pens as well as the now-ubiquitous mask and gloves recycling, Flinders University Library is committed to embracing the circular economy. 

The sections below document how this is being actioned across the library buildings and spaces:

Paper recycling bins in library staff area


Recycling bins for paper based products are available in both staff and public spaces across all libraries, including bins for confidential paper waste. 

This is managed at the University level, with staff outside the library responsible for removal from library spaces.  


General waste bin that has been repurposes as a soft plastics only bin

Soft plastics 

A more recent initiative has seen soft plastics recycling introduced. This is a local staff initiative in the Central library, individual staff drop the soft plastic collected to off-campus collection points.  

RED cycle posters are co-located with soft plastic recycling bins to ensure no contaminants are introduced. 


library trolley being used to corral discarded electronic items for e-waste disposal


As a technology rich environment, Flinders University Library is cognisant of the e-waste that is generated. The University works with its suppliers to ensure e-waste is returned as part of its supply chain.  

Everything from keyboards and monitors, fans, cables and headphones are recycled in this way. 


compost collection bin in library staff areaorganic waste disposal built into library staff kitchenCompost 

Another campus-wide initiative is compost recycling stations. Compost stations are located in both tea-rooms and staff work areas. Wherever possible this organic waste is recycled via on campus community garden composting and worm farms to provide nutrients for the next crop of produce. 


Staff-led recycling initiatives: batteries, bread tags, pens 

box for collecting used pens to be reycled

container to collect plastic bread tags

box to collect used batteries





Staff led recycling initiatives have seen the introduction of  collection points for batteries, bread tags and pens. Individual staff then take these items to recycling points off campus as part of their commitment to sustainability.  


New initiatives: Disposable Glove and Mask Recycling (Terracycle)  

Terracycle box to collect disposable face masks

Terracycle box to collect disposable gloves

The pandemic conditions and South Australia’s current mask requirements for indoor environments has seen a dramatic increase in mask use in library workspaces as well as more broadly across campus.  

Mask recycling stations are now in place across library spaces on campus, both public spaces and workspaces. 

Glove recycling is also available in staff spaces. 

Posted in