Green Impact

Green Impact

The Department of Materials supports the NUS Green Impact award scheme. The scheme is a National Scheme for bringing together staff and students to acheive behaviour change across a wide range of issue under the umbrella of sustainability.  Across the University of Oxford activities are promoted by the Uniiversity Estates Environmental Sustainability team.

Below lists some of the aims and our achievements so far.
What can you do differently to reduce waste and save resources?

Expand All

Green Impact Awards 2017

Green Impact Awards 2017

On 12 June 2017 the University of Oxford held the annual NUS Green Impact Awards presentations in the Sheldonian Theatre. The Department of Materials was awarded 'Silver' for general environmental practices, 'Silver' for the labs. Congratulations to the Committee for their tireless work throughout the year raising awareness and implementing new schemes to promote sustainability.

The Green Impact team are intending take a year off to consolidate our existing achievements before returning in 2018-19 with renewed vigour!




Green Impact Awards 2016

Green Impact Awards 2016

On 15 June 2016 The University of Oxford held the annual local Green Impact Awards at the Blavatnik School of Governance.  The Department of Materials was awarded 'Gold' for general environmental practices, 'Silver' for the labs and a special 'Innovation' award for Milly, the mascot.  

The judges were particularly impressed by Milly's T-shirt which is multi-use; the logo on the front can be changed without requiring a fresh garment, thus lowering her carbon foot- print.  This idea can also be scaled up to adult-sized T-shirts.  Special thanks go to Jane Foxall for designing and making Milly from recycled/re-used materials, and also to Rebecca Bradford and Debbie Townsend for helping make Milly so innovative.  

The department would also like to thank Katarina Martinovic for all her help during this year, and in particular for organising the very first Great Materials Bake-Off.



Green Impact 2015

Green Impact Awards 2015

In 2015 the Department of Materials achieved two awards; Silver for the Department and Gold for the Labs! We were one of two Departments within the entire scheme to be presented with two awards, so this is a huge achievement!

Congratulations, and thanks are due to Mimi Nguyen for all her hard work in transforming the labs into Gold standard working environments, and to the Committee for their tireless work throughout the year raising awareness, implementing new schemes and fundraising; Les Chorley, Alana Davies, Jing Hu, Nina Klein, Lorraine Laird, Euan McTurk, James Marrow and Paul Warren.

Congratulations to everyone and keep up the good work!

Did you know that roughly 600 devices use the Materials Department network each day? These devices use about 40 kW of electricity. In the Maths Department usage drops by 50% at night and at weekends but in Materials usage only drops by 15%.

Materials scientists do work very hard and at all hours; but do our computers need to be running overnight?

It’s reckoned that 1 kWh is the equivalent about 0.5 kg of CO2 emitted by fossil fuel generation of electricity, so our computers are producing about 3 tonnes of CO2 per week, which is equivalent to the carbon footprint of manufacturing 10 average computers…..

Before buying new, check whether someone else is disposing of unwanted old equivalent items using WARPit (Waste Action Reuse Portal).

The "Oxford University Staff Gateway gives a lot of advice on Travel and Transport, including ways to reduce your environmental impact.

  • Some of it you might not be aware of, and some can also save you some money - for example, the Business Travel Toolkit is a practical guide to reducing business travel and costs, including the use of videoconferencing. If you need to travel, you can plan your route door-to-door, get live travel news and even calculate the CO2 emissions for your travel options using 20140210)
  • For regular commutes, staff can get a 15% discount on First Great Western trains via easitOXFORD on Peak and Off Peak Tickets (Single and Return), Weekly, Monthly and Quarterly Season tickets, and a 10% discount off the standard price of 52 and 13 week bus passes from by Oxford Bus Company, Stagecoach and Thames Travel in Oxford. Interest free loans are available from the University for bus, train and park and ride season tickets, or to buy a bicycle too.(Newsletter 20140210)
  • Students and staff can buy a discounted bicycle D-lock for just £15 (retail price around £40) from the University security services. All this and more, via the Travel and Transport page on the Staff Gateway (Newsletter 20140210)

Despite the recent floods, conserving water is becoming an increasingly important environmental issue. We can all help to this valuable resource by changing our habits, in particular:

  • Notifying of any dripping taps. Les will need to know the building, floor, and which kitchen/lab/room needs inspecting. For those of you who cycle in and use the showers (in both Parks Road and Begbroke), this includes malfunctioning showers. (Newsletter 20140324)
  • Not washing items under a running tap. The department will shortly be supplying plastic bowls for each kitchen in its buildings. On average, this simple measure could help save up to 50% of domestic kitchen water. It’s astonishing, but as taps vary in flow, some can produce up to 25 litres of water per minute! (Newsletter 20140324)
  • If you have a dishwasher in your building’s kitchen, you can save water if you only run it when it’s completely full, rather than washing just a few items at a time. (Newsletter 20140324)

As of February 2016, our new caterers in the Holder Building Cafe in Parks Road have clearly labelled up their bins. Please split your rubbish into the appropriate bins.  BaxterStorey will then arrange for as much as possible to be sent to a recycling unit.

It is Departmental policy to reduce waste whenever possible.(Newsletter 20150313)

  • To help the environment and save paper, if you need to print anything, please use the doublesided ‘duplex’ function. Almost all the printers in the Department are able to print in duplex.
  • Why not re-use single sided printouts as note paper? This initiative is supported by Chris Grovenor, the Head of Department , who always re-uses paper which does not contain sensitive or confidential material.
  • When printing is necessary, black and white is better for the environment than colour. Choose ‘Grayscale’ in the ‘Colour’ tab of ‘Printer Properties’ to convert a colour document into black and white.
  • Did you know that it is cheaper to make multiple copies of documents using a photocopier, rather than printing them? Please consider using the double-sided function of the photocopier next time you make multiple copies .
  • Finally, please take any used printer cartridges to Reception for recycling.

Our aim is to avoid sending items to landfill wherever practically possible.(Newsletter 20150227)

  • The University has subscribed to ‘WARPit’, a recycling scheme which various Departments and Colleges have joined using the University’s account details. This Department has also joined, and therefore if you have any unwanted items which may be useful to someone else (i.e. not items which are broken), please consider advertising it via WARPit. In the first instance, contact with the details of the item you wish to advertise, as Les will be able to decide whether it is suitable, before the Green Impact Committee submit the item to the WARPit database. Once advertised, all University of Oxford subscribers will be able to view the item and contact Les Chorley should they wish to claim the advertised item. (Newsletter 20150227)


  • Correct labelling, handling and storage of chemical is essential. Please refer to the Laboratory Safety handbook.
  • Laboratories are reviewed monthly and checked bi-monthly.
  • If you have any concerns regarding chemicals, please email Mimi Ngyuyen.

Fumecupboards (Newsletter 20150220)

  • It is important you remember to close the sashes whenever possible, and turn off lights when not in use.
  • It is especially important to keep the rear ventilation aperture clear of obstructions
  • Please do not use the cupboards to store items. They must be used for their primary function only.
  • When not in use please turn off fume cupboards.
  • If you have any concerns regarding the amount of storage in your lab, please email Les Chorley stating what the problem is, and the specific lab concerned:

BaxterStorey, our caterers in the Holder Building Cafe, are keen to use Fairtrade whenever they cannot use local ingredients, and ran a FairTrade promotion throughout Hilary Term.  Their ingredients are organic and locally sourced as much as possible, and those items which cannot be local (such as chocolate) are FairTrade or another similar ethically-minded supplier.  

The Department is keen to promote key environmental practices in all areas, even within the teaching programme.  Professor James Marrow delivers a lecture course Materials for Energy Production which emphasises the need to implement a sustainable future energy supply strategy and discusses the technologies which might enable this.

Rob Saunders in our IT Team vounteered to shave his head and donate the hair to the 'Little Princess' charity, which produces wigs for children suffering hair loss as a result of illness or medical treatement.  Rob also collected the very impressive sum of £360 in sponsorship, all of which was donated to the Little Princess charity.

Paula Topping has just returned from voluntering her time at the 2nd Winter Youth Olympic Games, held in Lillehammer in February 2016.  Paula's superb efforts ensured the events was a huge success!  See Newsletter edition 21 Volume 2 of 3, dated 4 March 2016 for more information and pictures.


The very first Great Materials Bake Off took place during Trinity Term.  The winners were Gabrielle Bourret-Sicotte and Matthew Cyrson for their ingenious solar panelled cake - it looked and tasted amazing!  All the cakes were sold after the competition, to raise funds for the World Wide Fund for Nature.  We raised £67.45!   

The Green Impact Committee plan on joining other Departments and Colleges with the tree-planting at Wytham Woods later this year.  More details to follow.