October 25, 2015

UniGreenScheme needs your help!

Third year MIBTP student’s business UniGreenScheme has reached the final of the Shell Smarter Future competition and needs your help to win £5k cash! The winner is now decided on number of votes so please go to [2] on the pineapple picture on this link and vote for UniGreenScheme… http://www.shell-livewire.org/awards/smarter-future-programme/ Voting closes 31st October. See below to hear a little more about UniGreenScheme.

UniGreenScheme is a service built to solve a problem that troubles universities across the UK: The accumulation of unwanted equipment in laboratories.

The Problem:

Universities are always buying new equipment but don’t have an effective system for selling the enormous supply of unwanted equipment they accumulate. As such, functional and valuable equipment can be found unused but taking up valuable space, depreciating in value until ultimately being disposed of.

“Academic and infrastructure staff across the UK tell me the same thing: They have no storage space. Yet walk into any laboratory and you will find unwanted equipment on windowsills, shelving and benchtops as well as filling up corridors and store rooms. At some point, this becomes such a problem, it all has to go.” – Michael McLeod, Founder.

The UniGreenScheme Solution:

UniGreenScheme, is the easy way for universities to generate revenue and prevent waste. They collect, store and sell unwanted equipment from universities to their network of specialist business customers. They then share profits with the university.

“The best bit about our service is that we work directly with the PIs as well as technical and facilities managers – and share profits with them. Our approach gets unused laboratory equipment off the workbench and back into re-use because staff get something back for using us rather than just green points - making the use of their valuable time worthwhile.“ – Michael McLeod.

How this helps the environment:

Every item they get and item out of storage into re-use it displaces the carbon-cost of manufacturing a new product. This is particularly important with scientific equipment often manufactured using rare and hazardous materials. “I believe our service will make the entire scientific industry more sustainable through better use and re-use of its available resources” – Michael McLeod.

Their 3-year goals are to prevent 200,000kg of useable equipment going to waste. This will save 758,000kg of CO2e: That’s equivalent to a days carbon emissions of the entire district of West Somerset, or 37,000 people.

Some recent examples:

In 2003 an engineering school spent £16,000 on 30 boxes of Anechoic Foam. Only two boxes were used before the PI left the institution. The remainder were in their original boxes, sealed, and were moved from corridor to corridor until in 2015 a refurbishment meant they had to be spent for disposal. UniGreenScheme removed these boxes and are anticipating a return for the University of £7,000.


A uchairsniversity wide refurbishment required the removal of 300 high-value Italian designer chairs. The university was quoted £5,090 + VAT for disposal. UniGreenScheme collected all chairs in one day and are anticipating a sales return of over £3,000 for the University. They prevented four tonnes of plastic waste and 13 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

A commercial pass-through dishwasher that was sat in a corridor for several years unused was removed by UniGreencheme and they anticipate a return of £1,000 for the University.

“The best thing about running this business, is hearing where the items will go. Last week I was sent a picture of a workshop that was built using our second-hand Trespa that was otherwise being thrown into a skip. This week I heard some of our 1950’s classroom stools were being used in a social enterprise for children in Reading. This stuff that would be waste is being used for good and helping people and organisations save money. – Michael McLeod

Recent achievements:

UniGreenScheme only formed 10 months ago but has gone from strength to strength. They now have a 900 sq ft warehouse, and over 500 unwanted items in stock.

  • 16 Universities now interested in their service with several in Wales, England and Scotland.
  • Awarded £250 cash prize and were the business selected to Represent UoB at the national level in the Santander Entrepreneurship Competition.
  • They recently won competitive EU LIFE+ funded support in a competitive five-year project with just 30 other companies. Other companies include Sky, Panasonic, Samsung, DHL, Argos and many more.

The next 12 months will be very exciting for UniGreenScheme as they go from pilot phase into scale-up across the UK.

If your interested in hearing more about UniGreenScheme or want to use UniGreenScheme in your laboratory, just contact Michael on Michael.mcleod@unigreenscheme.co.uk Follow them on @unigreenscheme.

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