HEROs driving waste initiatives at Killara Primary School
Students at Killara Primary School are the proud winners of a Buddy Bench from Replas and a tour of the Replas Environmental Centre as part of our Waste Challenge last term. Robyn Smith, Sustainability Coordinator at Killara Primary School shares their waste initiatives and top waste management tips for other schools.
1. What is a hard to recycle item that your school initially had trouble with, but you now collect and recycle effectively?
We had two items that our school initially had trouble recycling effectively. The first was ring pulls from aluminium cans and the second was bread tags. After collecting 5.4kgs of ring pulls and countless hours of research and phone calls we finally came across Gary from Keysborough Freemasons. He told us that the Freemasons were collecting the ring pulls, selling them to a recycling company and the funds were forwarded to different charities, and that he would be happy to take ours. The only problem was that they were in Keysborough and we were in Sunbury. No drama, he had a transport truck coming down to Sunbury from Warracknabeal with 50kgs of the ring pulls and he was happy for us to drop ours off as well, and he would pick them up (he actually has family/friends in Sunbury).
The bread tags were not quite as complicated. The students had collected 1.6kgs of them and with a little research we found a company in South Australia, called Oz Bread Tags for Wheelchairs, who were collecting the tags and melting them down to make wheelchairs. Luckily there is a local childcare centre in Sunbury who is a drop off point. They gladly took the tags and a new partnership was formed.
2. How much is your waste management success due to student involvement?
At Killara we have 314 students and 24 staff. The students drive our waste initiatives at the school, especially our HEROs (Heating, Electricity, Recycling Officers). There are 2 HEROs in each classroom and they monitor waste and make sure that their classes are understanding the importance of waste reduction and are doing the right thing. They also pass on any ideas on to our sustainability team that their class might have for improving waste reduction in our school.
3. What is your next waste reduction goal?
Our next waste goal is to change our canteen menu so that less wrappers and packaging is being brought into the school. This will not be an easy task and will have to be done slowly over time so that students, staff and parents are all on board and can adjust with any new changes that are introduced.
4. What are your top 3 tips for other schools in waste management?
Our Top 3 Tips are:
- Have Environmentalist, or HEROs, in every classroom so schools can monitor waste and make sure everyone understands the importance of waste reduction and are doing the right thing
- Introduce Nude Food into your school. This helps families make better choices and helps to reduce the amount of waste being brought into the school
- Have regular waste audits to keep everyone on track. The data from these audits is invaluable when talking about what schools can/are doing for the environment.