The generation of paper waste in universities is a common occurrence due to the administrative, academic, and research activities that produce a substantial amount of printed documents. To address paper waste, the Open University of Sri Lanka has implemented many strategies to reduce the use of paper and encourage responsible disposal and recycling of paper waste. These efforts contribute to reducing the environmental impact associated with paper production and waste, conserving resources, and promoting a more sustainable campus environment.
Where does the paper waste come from
Paper waste in universities primarily originates from administrative offices, press, classrooms, libraries, computer labs, and student activities. Administrative documents, classroom materials like handouts and assignments, books, and event-related posters contribute to this waste. Additionally, sensitive information handling generates confidential paper waste. Those are 1. Confidential paper waste 2. Normal paper waste
Paper collecting system
Confidential paper waste is gathered and stored in a designated paper waste storage area. Regular paper waste primarily originates from the printing press, while general paper waste from segregated bins is collected and taken to the paper waste collection facility.
1. The Center for Environmental Studies and Sustainable Development has conducted an awareness campaign to reduce paper waste on the university premises. Reducing paper waste at universities involves implementing various four strategies. These strategies are:
          • Use a soft copy whenever possible
          • Review before printing
          • Save paper by printing double-side
          • Chose rough papers
Stickers showcasing the four strategies have been prominently affixed to the printers within each division. This initiative is aimed at inspiring our staff to adhere to sustainable practices, leading to a reduction in paper consumption and a decrease in paper waste generation
2.  The university has created digital platforms which led to significant reduction in paper usage. Platforms were created for administrative tasks, learning materials, communication, etc.
3. The university encourages double-sided printing and has set default printers to duplex mode, actively promoting paper conservation. 
4. Centralized printing stations have been established, enabling efficient monitoring and control of paper usage across campus.
5. OUSL has also implemented efficient document management systems and facilitated digital storage and shared, thereby reducing the necessity for physical copies
6. Online submissions for assignments and exams have been encouraged,  resulting in a higher reduction of paper waste.
7. The university actively conducts awareness campaigns to promote eco-friendly practices among students and staff, fostering a culture of sustainability and minimizing paper waste university-wide.

Handing over the cut paper from the press and other paper waste to the paper recycling company

Environmental Return Gained by Recycling of Waste Paper

  • 101,713 kg of waste paper has been recycled

  • Rs 2,394,919 has been earned through the recycling of paper waste

  • 1717 trees were saved

  • 2,695,050 liters of water were saved

  • 146,245 liters of oil were saved

  • 407kW of electricity saved

  • Reduced greenhouse gas emission by 101,713 kg’s of carbon equivalent