A SCHEME which has seen tonnes of unwanted student possessions diverted from landfill has been praised in an annual awards ceremony.

Durham University’s Green Move Out scheme encourages students to recycle items they no longer want at the end of the academic year, instead of throwing them away.

Launched in 2005, it has grown rapidly and last year diverted almost 20 tonnes of belongings from the rubbish dump.

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Now the project has won a commendation in the 21st County Durham Environment Awards.

Michelle Crawford, environmental bursar at Durham University, said: "We have continuously improved the Green Move Out scheme year on year since 2005.

"This year we are working closely with Durham County Council to include students who live out near to the Viaduct.

"The students have difficulty taking all belongings home due to international travel, train travel or insufficient space in parents’ cars. This reuse and recycle scheme prevents these belongings being sent to landfill."

Students living in Durham University colleges are given a clear bag and information leaflet and encouraged to fill the bag and leave it in their room for collection.

Items such as clothes, shoes, books, CDs, bric-a-brac, bedding and tinned and non-perishable food can be left.

Alternatively, students can donate direct to the British Red Cross or Great North Air Ambulance, by collecting a charity bag from their housekeeper.

Large pieces of furniture and bicycles can be donated by arrangement.

Students living out of colleges are urged to bring their items to college receptions and arrange for furniture and electrical items to be collected and reused through the East Durham Partnership Furniture Reuse Project.

Each year, the Green Move Out shield is awarded to the college which collects the most bags of recycling.

Grey College scooped the award in 2007-08, with Ustinov College taking the prize in 2008-09.

South Shields MP David Miliband, then Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, gave his backing to the Green Move Out scheme during a visit to Durham in May 2007.

The 21st County Durham Environment Awards were held at the Gala Theatre, Durham, in May.