Our Actions and Goals

SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
12. Responsible Consumption and Production
Sustainable Development Goals by the numbers:
[Line graphic of a recycling bin and the number 31%]
In 2022, 31% of Queen’s University waste was recycled.

Our goals in action

Research and innovation

Landfill leakages

Queen's researcher Kerry Rowe was recognized with the inaugural NSERC Donna Strickland Prize for Societal Impact of Natural Sciences and Engineering Research for his life's work devoted to the prevention and remediation of groundwater and surface water contamination disasters related to landfill barrier systems. Dr. Roww's work has impacted regulations, contaminant remediation, design, and the construction practice of landfills across three continents.

[Dr. Kerry Rowe holds a piece of equipment in his simulation testing lab in Ellis Hall.]

Recovering value from waste plastic

The Open Plastic project led by Queen’s researchers is working on the development of novel microbiological technology to support the breakdown of plastic waste into marketable recycled products. This work will support the diversion of plastics away from landfills, saving Canada over $500 million a year and creating 40,000 future jobs in the clean technology industry.

Teaching and student life

[Line drawing of a bowl of salad]

Queen’s has the country’s first university-based Sustainability Chef, responsible for our environmentally friendly and always tasty food options.

It pays to dine sustainably

Sustainability is incorporated everywhere at Queen’s, including in all Hospitality Services’ food operations. The Housing and Ancillary Services Sustainability Framework includes several initiatives that are effective in reducing waste while dining on campus, including the GOOD TO GO Reusable Container Initiative and Reusable Mug Program. Students, staff, and faculty members are incentivized to help combat single-use waste by saving money through participation in dining halls and retail food locations.

Take less, waste less

Our Waste Audit Report prepared by GFL Environmental identified opportunities to improve our overall waste diversion rate and expand our recycling program. It also recommended that Queen’s continue to raise awareness and education about waste and recycling procedures on campus.

The success of the university's diversion initiatives relies on the cooperation and participation of students, faculty, and staff. The Waste Wizard app is one tool to help anyone on campus determine the best method to dispose of items with the goal to support good recycling.

Community impact

[Line drawing of a single-use container and the number 25,210]

210,452 single-use containers were diverted from landfill between May 2022 and April 2023 through the GOOD TO GO reusable container initiative.

Extending product life

[Student volunteers organize donations during the Drop or Swap event.]

Mindful Move-Out is an initiative supported by Queen’s and the City of Kingston which provides supports and resources to help students sustainably and responsibly donate, trade, and recycle items as they move out at the end of the academic year.

The Drop or Swap Event is one of the programs that helps students to donate their furniture, small appliances, kitchenware, electronics, office supplies, clothing, linen, and non-perishable food items to local charities during their move-out period. This year's event collected 4,818 items for donation with an estimated value of $190,000.

Moving toward zero plastic waste

Our efforts to reduce plastic use continue to pay off. As a Bottled Water Free Campus we have minimized plastic bottle waste. Because we regularly track the amount of waste generated and recycled across our campus, we also know that our awareness and recycling programs have reduced the amount of waste produced at Queen’s and diverted large amounts of plastic waste from our city’s landfills.

Moving Toward Zero Plastic Waste

Administration and operations

[Line drawing of two water bottles behind a stop sign]

Our Bottled Water Free Campus initiatives remove almost 100,000 water bottles from circulation every year.

Respecting the environment in all we do

We believe we have a responsibility for the safety of the environment as a shared resource. As such, our Policy Statement on Environmental Management commits to exceeding all legislation and formal obligations for protecting the environment. The policy also aims to educate the university community about actions they can take to have the smallest possible impact on the environment.

Sustainability at your fingertips

Sustainable Queen's is a dynamic community, bringing together campus and Kingston partners pursuing climate action and sustainability efforts in all their forms. The Sustainable Queen’s website outlines our sustainability initiatives and includes various student resources, research, and reports.

[Photo of a lake in South Frontenac County]

Queen's Art of Research Submission: Nature's van Gogh by Hayden Wainwright, MSc Student (Biology), South Frontenac County, Ontario

Sustainable sourcing

Queen's strives to create a culture of sustainability on campus that influences the way we operate. We encourage and support social procurement focused on meeting our needs while achieving value for money and generating benefits to the organization, the community, and the economy while minimizing damage to the environment. Our Procurement Policy ensures accountable, efficient, transparent, and ethical practices are used to acquire products and services for the university whether by purchase, rental, or lease.

Sustainable dining

Queen’s Hospitality Services serve more than 3 million meals a year during regular operations to students, faculty, staff, and the broader community. They are committed to providing the highest quality, guest-centric food and experience while also meeting the needs of our diverse community in a sustainable and financially responsible way. Hospitality Services manages several initiatives across campus to integrate sustainability into their operations and make a positive impact on our university’s consumption needs. We are proud to be a Fair Trade Campus and source only sustainable seafood to be served on campus.