All entries for Wednesday 05 March 2008

March 05, 2008

Students Win Change on Recycling in Halls

At a meeting of the University Environment Committee last Thursday 21st February 2008, the Students’ Union gained University officials’ commitment to implementing recycling in every kitchen on campus. The meeting was especially timely given that it took place during Go Green Week. As a result of the meeting, the Union resolved to collaborate with Warwick Accommodation and Estates in implementing this scheme by September 2008.

Many students have contributed to the campaign over the years. In 2005, 2006 and 2007, 3000 signatures were gained during Go Green Week, Paul Smyth – Union Environment Officer and Campaigns Committee Chair 2004-6 – stands out as a champion of the environment by demanding that Recycling in Halls to be brought in, cuts in Carbon dioxide emissions and he succeeded in lobbying for An Environment Officer to be appointed.

This year Union President Joe Kirby demanded that students be included in the negotiations for the university waste contract in January and he managed to secure a clause in the contract. This stated that any company who won the tender would be required to remove mixed recyclables from halls and separate them off site. This enabled the University and Union to devise a scheme with one bin for waste, and one mixed recycling bin for tins, cans, plastic and cardboard.

Go Green Coordinators Hannah Smith, Kate Shayler and Alex Fowles have been collecting signatures this year to reinforce the demand for recycling on campus and were instrumental in setting up direct action by several students involved in Go Green Week this year to lobby the University in its own place at University House, which was crucial to the final decision taken at the Committee.

According to to Warwick’s Environment Officer Nick Hillard, the scheme is set to hit recycling rates of 90% cross-campus, comparing with the current some-what dismal rate of 11%. However, there is still a long way to go before recycling is finally delivered in every hall. A Coordinator of Go Green Week said:

‘People and Planet Society have been campaigning on this issue for many years now and have compiled several thousand signatures from students insisting upon the matter. In fact for many, recycling in halls has been the largest issue of contention when analysing the university’s environmental impact. Go Green Week this year was very heavily focussed on pressuring the University to commit to a deadline for the installation and it seems as though the endless petitioning, meetings with the environmental committee and implementation of Union Policy has finally paid off, thanks to the help of Warwick’s environmental officer, Nick Hillard and the many students who have been involved in Go Green Week over the past few years.

‘Personally, I see this as a huge achievement for the People and Planet Society and I would like to thank all of those who have been instrumental; it is very rewarding to see the hard work of so many finally paying off.

‘It is now time to reassess the direction of student action on campus and re-focus our energies on new projects, as this chapter is drawing to its conclusion.’

The fine details of implementation of this scheme are as yet to be decided upon and The Union and the University will be working together to deliver this. In an Interview with RaW News, Union President Joe Kirby and Go Green Coordinator Alex Fowles expressed their views on where the University, the Students Union and active individuals go from here.
Click on the link to hear the interview and please do leave any comments in the section below.

Hannah Smith
Head of News

Go Green Students

Free Trade or Fairtrade? RaW News analyses Make Trade Fair Week and the Referendum Motion

Last Week on Campus was Make Trade Fair Week, an event run by the People and Planet Society. Now in the wake of the Union Referenda this week, RaW News Correspondant Rithee Pandya described the ideas behind fair trade and introduced the contentious debate as to whether Free Trade or Fair Trade is the direction in which this Union should be heading.

Warwick Students in the Yurt

Just as go green week ended and you thought you had had you fair share of ethical issues, fair trade week began here at Warwick. The week saw a tent put up in the piazza, fair trade chocolate fountains and an abundance of Oxfam leaflets and badges. There was a Fairtrade forum discussing workers’ rights and the effectiveness of Fairtrade in trade justice and local protest against Topshop.

RaW News interviewed Make Trade Fair Week organisers James Hall and Sara Johnson to analyze the success of the week. To listen, just click on the link below:

But what actually is fair trade? Unfortunately, it runs the risk of being one of those vague concepts that the majority of people follow because of its wash of morality.

The idea behind it is producers of goods, such as bananas, coffee, tea and cotton, in poor countries are given a better-than-market price for their products. This will guarantee them a decent wage,ensuring they can develop their business an infrastructure, rather than being gutted every time the bottom falls out of whichever market they’re in.

In the UK, £300m worth of Fairtrade products were purchased in 2006, up from £493m in 2005. There are predictions that that over the next 5 years this will grow by 11% and total £585m by 2012.Tate & Lyle has just said it’s going to turn over its entire operation to Fairtrade sugar with 40% of the cost of each bag of sugar will go to its growers and producers in Belize. Scotland has said even said it’s going to try to become the world’s first fair trade country.

However, according to the Adam Smith Institute, there are ‘inconvenient truths’ about fair-trade which have yet to surface. This week the ASI published a highly critical report suggesting that fair-trade benefits only a handful of farmers are the expense of the majority. Those farmers who qualify for fair trade certification are given higher prices for their produce, making it ‘unfair’ for the farmers that don’t. Even for Fairtrade certified farmers, only 1/5 of their produce sold ends up as fair-trade.

Those supporters of fair trade point to its successes; schools/hospitals built and agriculture sustained. A representative of the farmers of the Winward Islands in the Caribbean at the ‘Whats the point in fair trade?’ conference here at Warwick, highlighted the benefits the islanders have gained from fairtrade. The windard island produces bananas on, due to their location and resources, an extremely small and expensive scale. Fair trade has allowed them to sustain their business and they can now compete alongside the more developed banana producers of South America and Europe.

Given the wave of fair-trade products sweeping our shelves, what does it mean for consumer choice? By doing our little bit, are we addressing the wider issues? Do we know what the wider issues are? RaW News invited representatives from Make Trade Fair Week, the Warwick Tory Party and then threw in a few extras, in order to debate the pros and cons of fairtrade.

To listen to the debate click on the link, and should you have any views on the matter, please do leave your comments in the section below.

Rithee Pandya
Political Correspondent
Hannah Smith
Head of News

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