General Recycling Practices
Epping Views PS Waste Project
Paper recycling containers are in place in each classroom, the staffroom and administration areas are monitored by students on a weekly basis. Other recyclable materials (products 1-7, bottles, PET, cans) and co-mingled recycling containers have been placed in the staffroom, canteen and playground areas. Paper reuse containers are in place in each classroom. All students are encouraged to use this paper wherever possible for writing and drawing activities. Single sided sheets are also used in classroom and administration printers and photocopiers. Our school photocopier has codes so that staff are required to think whether a photocopy sheet is the best way to teach that activity.
Perhaps the most significant challenge in implementing the general recycling practices in EVPS has been the re-education of staff and students to ensure that these recycling practices become sustained and become embedded in our EVPS culture. Staff have participated in the Professional Development Sessions provided by RSS AuSSI Vic. The EVPS Waste Sustainability team have also participated in the Rubbish Free Challenge Education sessions which have enabled them to develop a much clearer understanding of the different types of rubbish and the differences between compostable, reusable and recyclable rubbish. Team leaders have used assemblies to pass this knowledge on to all our students. Classes have also participated in waste curriculum activities to further broaden their knowledge. This has resulted in a much better use of our recycling systems. As staff deepen their understandings of the importance of recycling and reduction and general paper usage, we are able to note a decrease in the number of reams of paper used by staff from270kgs of A4 copy paper in 2008 to 189 kgs of A4 copy paper in 2009 despite our grades increasing from 2 in 2008 to 7 to this point in 2009. This can be attributed to reuse of single sided copies and also staff being strongly encouraged to consider other creative ways of designing activities avoiding a reliance on photocopying.
In 2008, EVPS received accreditation as a “Kids Go For Your Life” school. We strongly encourage positive nutritional practices through a daily fruit snack and class fruit platters after our whole school weekly walk on Fridays. To accommodate this significant amount of organic waste, fruit buckets have been placed in each classroom, and the canteen and staff room areas. These are emptied into our compost bins and worm farm on a weekly basis. EVPS has just also established our “Hilton Henhouse” which houses our resident chooks, guinea pigs and rabbits – all excellent composters as well!
Organic Waste Management
Re-education of staff and students has resulted in a far more effective use of the fruit bucket and composting systems that have been set up in the school. Initially, students often confused which rubbish should go in each container, which resulted in weekly monitors spending unnecessary amounts of time sorting out rubbish. Also more effective use of the fruit bucket and composting systems has been set up in the school. Also the amount of organic waste generated by grades exceeded the amount required for one composting system. This often resulted in overladen fruit buckets sitting in classrooms. Senior students at EVPS now systematically empty all grades buckets on a weekly basis, which are then washed for re-use. An additional compost bin has also been purchased, which together with the worm farm are additional destinations for fruit scraps. Community assistance has also been utilised to set up the EVPS henhouse. These hens are also excellent composters as they have an insatiable appetite for fruit and vegie scraps. Our SETS data indicates a reduction in the total amount of waste to landfill per student from 53.8749 kgs per student in 2008 to 41.1573 kgs per student in 2009.
This year EVPS registered and participated in the Rubbish Free Lunch Challenge. This initiative was embarked upon as a means of working towards the achievement of our overall SEMP goal of reducing our waste to landfill by 70%. The data generated from our two Rubbish Free Measurement Days indicates that no grades daily hard rubbish now exceeds 200 grams.
Our whole School community initially committed to their involvement in our rubbish free challenge. Although grades participated with enthusiasm and our community positively supported this initiative, perhaps our greatest challenge will be to sustain this practice, so once again rubbish free lunches become part of the EVPS Sustainability Culture. Our next challenge is to work towards a Rubbish Free Lunch Policy, which we plan to take to school council for approval. As well as bringing our lunches to school in reusable containers we will also recommend that rubbish be taken back home rather than taking up space in our bins or finding it’s way into our playground. Our school waste team has also developed the goal of eliminating rubbish from our playground. We now plan to focus on the rubbish that is generated from our canteen, as a means of reducing our rubbish even further and keeping our school ground clean and beautiful.
Our current School Environment Management Plan (SEMP) is currently being worked through by our sustainability action team with many benchmarks already achieved. Our aim is to keep waste to landfill per student to below 0.3 cubic metres per year . Our current data outlined above indicates significant reductions between 2008 and 2009. Major milestones that have been achieved through SEMP are that all practices are present in the following areas:
Waste Reduction: Maintenance, Management and Monitoring, Recycling – General, Reuse, Organic Waste Management, Litter, Curriculum Management, and Student and Parent Leadership
In relation to other categories of SEMP we achieved many of the milestones but still working on several practices. One aspect that we are proud of as a school is implementing sustainability action teams. The waste team at the start of the year set goals, established priorities and developed an action plan that they wanted to work through as a team. Our action teams meet three times a term and work towards achieving these goals. One of the most significant teaching and learning experiences for our students has been our involvement in the Rubbish Free Challenge. Our “Rubbish Free Challenge has taught us that it takes just a little individual thought and effort to collectively lessen the amount of hard rubbish in our lunches. Sally, from Envirocom helped us to understand the difference between reusable, recyclable and compostable rubbish. Our school community can now make much better choices when we think about how we are going to bring lunches to school. Our Waste team examined the rubbish in each grade. We discovered that the rubbish demons in our lunches were gladwrap and chip packets.