Chatham Primary School worked on the Waste Module in 2010. We’ve had many successes and challenges throughout the year.
Rubbish Free Lunch days are held once per week and are very well supported throughout the school. On these days the Environment Leaders collect and weigh the rubbish from each classroom. At the following assembly the Leaders read out the volumes and award a prize to the classroom with the least waste. Most families pack healthy lunches in divided containers with minimal or no packaging. Some wrappers are still sent to school, so the children are encouraged to unwrap the food where possible and leave the wrapper in their lunchbox or in the classroom bin. The school started promoting rubbish free lunches in 2007.
We have a three-bin system in the school yard. One bin is for compost, one for recycling and one for landfill rubbish. The children are taught what goes in each bin and there are pictures on the bins to remind them. Even so, we still find that rubbish is put into the wrong bins, meaning that often the three bins go into landfill instead of just one. This is something that we are constantly reassessing and are interested to hear if other schools have had similar challenges. Each classroom has a bin for food waste, as does the canteen. The food scraps go to the chooks or into one of several large compost bins down near our vegie patch. The classrooms also have recycling and landfill bins, which are collected by the Grade 5s and consolidated into the appropriate bins for the skip or recycling.
The canteen is a good example of the school’s Green Procurement Policy at work. Choices are based not only on the food quality, but also on how the food is wrapped and delivered. The local bakery has been asked not to individually wrap items like muffins. Items like pies and pizzas come in recyclable plastic bags (no. 7) and fruit salads and dips are presented in recyclable eco-boxes. Straws are no longer offered with drinks. We recently met with an environmental packaging company to look at other options for sustainable packaging and waste disposal.
Garden prunings are mulched on site and stored in one of three compost and mulch bays. We also store collected leaves and the used hay from the chooks in these bays before reusing the ‘matured’ compost in creating more vegie gardens.