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Ulster University, in collaboration with environmental charity Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs is tackling plastic waste and climate change with the installation of a thought-provoking art installation which serves as a recycling bin, at its state-of-the-art Belfast City Campus.

Launching in February to capitalise on staff and students’ commitments to be more environmentally considerate, this ‘Single-Use Plastic Bottle Bin’ is designed to both remove plastic bottles from the general waste stream and increase awareness and responsibility amongst the Ulster University community on the threat of plastic pollution.

Linking into Ulster University’s Sustainability Strategy, the 6ft tall container has been created by local metal artist Peter Lorimer to evoke the appearance of a soft drink bottle. The visual impact of the design acts as a reminder of the scale of the plastic problem in Northern Ireland and as a nudge to the public to recycle plastic waste or better still refuse it altogether.

Marie-Louise Gaile, Sustainability Manager at Ulster University said: “At Ulster University we are responding to the climate emergency and biodiversity challenges through our Sustainable Futures for All strategy. The University provides vital research output and learning on the transition from a ‘take-make-waste’ linear economy to a circular economy where waste is designed out and materials are reused and remanufactured.

“We manage our University resources sustainably and support staff, students, and visitors to make greener choices while travelling to and when on campus. We re-use materials across the University through our sharing portal where otherwise unwanted items are posted and claimed by departments which helps reduce purchasing, disposal and environmental impacts and our general waste is diverted from landfill by being recycled or used to generate electricity.

“This engaging and visually-striking installation will further improve awareness, encourage action, and motivate our staff, students, and visitors to integrate sustainable behaviours into their daily lives and reduce harmful plastic waste.”

In helping to set up the initiative, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful aims to highlight the persistent problem with plastic pollution. The 2022 Marine Litter Report, produced by the charity, found that 90% of the litter found on our beaches in Northern Ireland is made of plastic. This is the highest since the survey began in 2012.

Chris Gourley, Waste and Pollutions Solutions Strategic Lead at Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful comments: “This waste project provides a transparent, imposing reminder of the scale of our plastic consumption. It’s not just about collecting plastics; it's a concerted effort to raise awareness of the significant impact of plastic pollution to address the serious issue of litter in our environment. By introducing these bins and promoting the principles of reduce, reuse, and recycle, we hope to encourage behaviours such as carrying reusable water bottles and seeking alternatives to single use plastics.”

The ‘Single-Use Plastic Bottle Bin’ has been installed through Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful’s ‘Tacking Plastic Northern Ireland’ programme, which is funded by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs. The programme encourages the public, councils, schools and businesses to avoid buying single-use plastic and to make a commitment to reduce pointless plastic by signing a ‘Plastic Promise’. Visit www.liveherelovehere.org/plasticpromise to find out more.


For more information contact:

Maria McLaughlin

Tackling Plastic Communication Officer