Keele graduate wins national sustainability award

Keele’s Elliott Lancaster has won the ‘Enterprise’ category of the Green Gown Awards 2018 for his student project ‘Utter Rubbish’, developed as part of a module on ‘Entrepreneurship’ while studying at Keele.

The Green Gown Awards recognise sustainability excellence across a range of categories. ‘Utter Rubbish’ is an app developed by Elliott to improve recycling and waste services in the UK, which provides environmental, social, and economic benefits to the local community, offers information for household waste service users and residents, and provides an easily accessible online prevention service to report fly-tipping. ‘Utter Rubbish’ has already actively combatted £164,000 worth of recorded penalties for fly-tipping in the pilot area, Newcastle-under-Lyme, since it was introduced

On becoming the recipient of a Green Gown Award, Elliott said:

“I am still coming to terms with winning such a prestigious award. It is truly a great honour to be recognised by leaders in the sector for the work that I did during my studies.

“I have benefited greatly from the applied learning process at Keele, where I have embraced the distinctive interdisciplinary study offered to research my area of interest. All of my lecturers have been incredibly supportive and have dedicated their time to further both my professional and personal development.”

Elliott, who is now a sabbatical officer at the Students’ Union, developed the ‘Utter Rubbish’ app alongside his studies at Keele, with funding and support from the ‘Environment Now’ scheme run by O2, NYA, National Lottery, and Our Bright Future, with support from BeInspired at Staffs Business Support and Skills sessions.

Elliott explained:

“The idea for the app initially came from a work placement at Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, where I was shadowing the Leader of the Council. As part of my time there, I noticed first-hand the ongoing problem that fly-tipping has on the environment, and figured out a way to change this with digital technology. I have always had a passion for the environment, and believe that sometimes the simplest solutions are the most sustainable.”

Elliott has also been considered as a finalist for the 2018 Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce Awards for the Environment/Low Carbon category, and was shortlisted for the 2018 Morgan Innovation and Technology Prize.

Dr Zoe Robinson, Director of Education for Sustainability at Keele University commented:

“We are incredibly proud of Elliott’s great achievement in being recognised through the Green Gown awards. This award is all the more impressive as a student winning an open award category rather than one of the categories specifically for student-related projects. At Keele, through our curriculum and co-curriculum opportunities, we inspire, empower and support students to drive their own projects and make the positive changes that they want to see in the world. Elliott is a great role model for all of our students of what can be achieved.”

Elliott added:

“I plan to keep developing ‘Utter Rubbish’ to become more intuitive with the features that it offers, while I continue to sign up more local authorities nationally. I am also looking forward to showcasing ‘Utter Rubbish’ at the Reimagine Education Awards later this month, where Keele is also shortlisted in the Sustainability category for this project.”