An environmental consultant has encouraged Wits to take the lead in plans to save the planet.
Lindsay Wayman, from Oricol Environmental Services, said South Africa falls in the top 20 greenhouse gas emitters in the world.
The harmful effects of greenhouse gases on the atmosphere are widely documented and include global warming, ozone depletion and adverse effects on biodiversity.
Wayman said the campus looks clean and has litter bins. But she called on the university to improve its waste management because litter was destined for landfill.
This results in waste not breaking up properly thus producing methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times worse for the environment than carbon monoxide.
She said graduates who leave the institution should have something to offer to the world in terms of reducing their carbon footprint.
“Wits’ aim shouldn’t be about intellectual standards only but sustainability as well.
“It starts here. The skills students get here are what they will take into the world.”
Wayman also called on the university to have a recycling website, recycling maps and even recycling events, such as a green week.
Wits’ grounds and waste management manager, Andries Norval, said awareness campaigns have been lined up for everyone at Wits, including the cleaning staff.
“We are trying to get permission from senior management to do recycling presentations in lectures and we are committed to see Wits leading all tertiary institutions in South Africa as far as recycling is concerned,” Norval said.
Universities around the world, such as the University of Sussex, have vibrant recycling initiatives which one can easily access on their website.
A group of Wits students has started their own branch of a non-governmental organisation, Generation Earth, which will be launched this weekend.
“Recycling should be a key part of Wits admin and the university should lead the students by example by having a greener mindset; a lot of people want to live green lifestyles but they just don’t know how,” said Generation Earth Wits president Michael Constantinides.
Wits has a recycling centre behind the DJ Du Plessis Building, West Campus and students are welcome to send their electrical gadgets there for recycling.