OUR JOURNEY TO REDUCE OUR WASTE
After completing a recent waste audit in November 2018, our school identified that our waste output could be decreased with a few simple changes to the waste we create at school.
We had already implemented a number of recycling initiatives over the years with separate paper/cardboard recycling, comingled recycling using council bins, organic recycling with compost caddies in every learning space and battery recycling through our Environmental Education specialist subject.
The main contributors to our waste output was staff and student food brought in each day with mainly single use packaging and green waste from school grounds going into our rubbish dumpster.
In regards to our food packaging waste, our school implemented Nude Food from Day 1 of the 2019 school year where all staff and students were required to bring their food in reusable or recyclable packaging. If single use packaging was brought to school, then it was expected to be taken back home instead of placed in a school rubbish bin.
The only exceptions to food packaging being put in school bins was if students ordered lunch orders or purchased ice creams/ icy poles from the canteen which could then be placed in a school bin.
The school community feedback and positive action has been amazing, with the majority of our school community getting on board and some who are now catching up with providing nude food for the children.
Our school bins provided in our outdoor eating area are now only inspected and emptied when required which can be anywhere from 2- 4 weeks instead of every second day.
In regards to our green waste, the school weighed up the 2 options of having a stand-alone green waste dumpster collection on demand or purchasing a commercial mulcher chipper to process the green waste to make into compost for the school gardens. The mulcher proved to be the better option even though it was a bigger upfront purchase cost. All green waste is now mulched and composted before being added to our school produce garden. This has decreased our waste output and closed the loop on our green waste turning it into a valuable resource for the school.
With these two initiatives, we have been able to reduce our waste dumpster pickups from 2 to 1 each week and we now do not usually fill 1 dumpster each week.
By continuing on our current waste reduction course we will be able to make a projected saving of $2 500 annually.