Contributed on 23.01.2017 by Bethany Jade Whiting

Uni-Cycle is a social enterprise, non-profit organisation based on the University of Manchester’s Owen’s Park Campus. Hannah, an ex-student, was motivated to set up Uni-Cycle following time volunteering on MMU’s Zero Waste Project, where she witnessed the sheer scale of how much unnecessary waste is created by students and the local community.  It was her mentor who told her to ‘Go for it, what is the worst that could happen?’ that motivated her to start the organisation. Uni-Cycle was since set up in 2014 and since then has reclaimed over 30 tonnes of reusable waste from both University of Manchester and University of Salford therefore diverting this all from landfill.

Although the items collected are someone’s waste, there is nothing wrong with them and they are perfectly suitable for reuse. The reclaimed waste are high quality items ranging from brand new shoes and clothes, unused saucepans to larger electrical items including printers and hair straighteners. They also reclaim unwanted tins and sealed packs of food which are then donated to local charities and also collect unwanted washing up and washing detergents that are then used to clean the items that have been reclaimed.

The benefits the items have on others is often huge, with over 800 low-income families and homeless individuals having been helped through to local charities including Barakah Foods, Mad Dogs Street Project, Lifeshare Greater Manchester and Emmaus Salford following donations of food, clothing and bedding from Uni-Cycle. They have also donated over 0.5 tonnes of quality goods to British Heart Foundation and The Salvation Army to sell in their shops.

Not all of the reclaimed usable waste is donated to charities, a pop up Uni-Cycle shop has opened on the Owen’s Park campus and Hannah has been able to use washing and dishwashing facilities to clean the equipment with the products that she has reclaimed minimising any costs for this. She has also transformed unwanted cabinets and drawers into display shelves for her stock with the addition of lights to make the items on display really stand out.

Any items in the shop are sold to new and returning students at low and reasonable prices, which is currently the only income Uni-Cycle receives and relies on. While Hannah admits everything is still very much ‘work in progress’ you can see she is proud of what she has achieved so far and is determined to make this project the best it can be.

For more information, you can find Uni-Cycle on:

Facebook:          unicyclemcr

Twitter:               @uni_cycl

Instagram:         unicyclemcr

Also, you can sign up to our Resource, Reuse, Reclaim event at MMU to find out more about Uni-Cycle and other initiatives around the city focused on the positive impacts of waste and recycling. Sign up here