A CAMPAIGN is being launched to tackle the hundreds of tonnes of waste left behind by students at the end of term.

Broken furniture, rotting mattresses and overflowing bin bags are among the piles of rubbish left by students at the start of the summer vacation, according to Oxford residents.

Now university bosses and council chiefs have joined forces for the first time to crack down on the issue.

They are knocking on the doors of 2,000 homes in East Oxford and Headington to encourage tenants to recycle and donate unwanted items.

The pilot scheme urges students to have furniture collected by local organisations and donate items to charity shops.

If it proves successful, the scheme will be rolled out across the city.

It is supported by Oxford University and Oxford Brookes University, and comes as students prepare to leave in the coming month.

Oxford City Council’s John Tanner said: “There are lots of shared houses in parts of Oxford that look a real mess. There are complaints from all over the city.”

Mr Tanner, executive board member for a cleaner, greener Oxford, said: “We are hoping this campaign will be able to clear up that mess.”

The waste the council collects surges as students leave, risking costly landfill taxes.

It rose from 3,659 to 3,892 tonnes from April to June last year – the period when most students move out.

In 2011/12, the average monthly collection was 3,360 tonnes.

Council recycling officer Emily Martin said: “The response so far has been positive. A lot of the doors we knocked were already doing something anyway.”

Ed Chipperfield, chairman of James Street Residents’ Association, East Oxford, welcomed the move but said landlords also had a role to play.

He said: “Quite a lot of the houses around here have things in their front garden for a couple of years.

“The landlords don’t care about it and the new people won’t move it because it isn’t theirs.”

Frank Webster, a director at letting agent Finders Keepers, said waste was quickly taken by the firm to Redbridge recycling centre and tenants were billed.

He said: “They think some magicians will clean the house for them. They don’t realise it takes time to clear away after two years.”

He said of the campaign: “It might work. It is at least an attempt to try and encourage them.”

But Elizabeth Mills, chairman of Divinity Road Area Residents Association (DRARA), questioned whether it would be a success.

She said students snubbed DRARA’s biannual Freecycle event, where residents put out unwanted items for their neighbours to take away.

She said: “The students have never participated in it – I see absolutely no reason why they should participate in this.

“I am sure they are very bright but they can’t get their act together.”

Among those visited by council and university staff last week were Brookes students Lucas Murrin and Ryan Varley of Grays Road, Headington. Computer science and Japanese studies student Mr Varley said anything left over before his return to Derbyshire would go to charity shops.

He said: “There is a wide variety of students that come to university and they are more or less conscientious. It is a mixture.”

The leaflet encourages students to call charities Aspire or Emmaus to get furniture collected for free for sale or reuse.

As an incentive, students who donate there and at Age UK, Barnardo’s, Helen & Douglas House or Oxfam in Cowley Road can enter a draw to win a laptop, donated by Oxford University.

To find out more about the city’s recycling facilities, see oxford.gov.uk