Sonata Petrauskaite, Soft Services Administrator, Estates

“The pandemic helped us to realise that it’s better to recycle, reuse or giveaway as we need to take care of our society”

The Soft Services team is responsible for all the waste recycling, minor removals, chemical and hazardous waste at the College. I joined the team four years ago, having originally joined Imperial 14 years ago.  

Before this role, I worked as a Senior Waitress with the Events and Conference department for ten years. After working as a maternity cover in the Soft Services team, I felt I was ready for a move to the team. It was daunting, but I trusted myself to take on a new challenge in a different environment.  

My role involves making our Imperial staff, students, and visitors aware of the right recycling procedures to maintain a healthier and safer environment. As a team, we deal with any incoming requests, as well as reporting issues, finding a solution to problems – we are Imperial’s little soldiers! We patrol between campuses, ensuring a safe working and studying environment is in place.  

One of our biggest tasks is the departure of students from our halls of residence. Departures day in early July is a big operation. In just one day, we manage the waste of 10 different halls occupied by just over 2,900 residents. Planning begins a few months ahead for this as it’s important that we make sure that everything is quickly sorted and cleaned for the next students and any visitors using the halls over the summer period.  

We try and recycle whatever items are left to make sure they go to a good home. We donate any clothes and other goods left by students to the British Heart Foundation. We also work with the company Better Reuse, which collects pillows and duvets to be reused or recycled.

As we approach departure day, we leave boxes for students in the kitchen so they can leave any unused food, which we donate to the Felix Project.  

Over the years, I have definitely seen a change in our approach to waste and recycling at Imperial. The pandemic helped us to realise that it’s better to recycle, reuse or giveaway as we need to take care of our society and our environment. Our students in particular are very passionate about sustainability and recycling. 

Outside of work, I enjoy reading books and spending time with my daughter who also works at Imperial. My family is the most important thing to me. I love when we are all together with my sisters and brother and have a weekend full of fun visiting each other.

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