Silver standard recognises Etc. colleges’ drive to go green

Whether it’s cutting down on electricity use, car sharing, or swap shops, thinking green is fast becoming part of the ethos at the Education Training Collective (Etc.).

Now the group of Teesside colleges has seen its efforts recognised with a silver award from the Investors in the Environment (iiE) and recertification from Carbon Neutral Britain for the second year running.

“As a college group working with thousands of people every year, we made a decision to lead by example when it comes to reducing our environmental impact,” said director of marketing and sustainability lead, Erika Marshall.

“What started out as small steps such as reducing the number of plastic bottles in our fridges and swapping single-use plastic cutlery for more sustainable options has grown to a whole group approach.”

For the Etc., which comprises Bede Sixth Form College, NETA Training, Redcar and Cleveland College, Stockton Riverside College and The Skills Academy, greener thinking led to the creation of a Green Initiatives Group, made up of more than 30 volunteers from across the college sites.

“By working together and sharing ideas the initiatives have just become bigger and more ambitious,” said Erika.

Efforts to reduce the group’s collective carbon footprint have included increasing recycling, reduced general waste and energy consumption, along with clothing, book and gift swaps and the introduction of a car share scheme.

Now with the iiE Green Award in their sights, the colleges are increasingly turning their attention to ways students and staff can reduce their carbon emissions both in the classroom and at home.

Erika said: “By spreading the word and making more sustainable choices a part of college life we hope to spread the word, through friends and family, to our wider communities.

“Making more sustainable choices is not just good for the environment but also can be beneficial to households facing the challenges of the cost of living and fuel crises.”

Jo Holmes, managing director of environmental sustainability consultancy, Genee Consulting Ltd, said: “During their iiE membership over the past year, Etc. have made some really positive strides when tackling the impact of transport on their overall sustainability, as well as commendable work towards managing their waste.

“Through their excellent communications and campaigns, they have been able to integrate sustainability into the day-to-day of the organisation and we’ve loved seeing their progress. We’re positive that 2023 will see Etc. reach green iiE accreditation.”