Since becoming a ‘Waste Wise School’ in 2007, Kurunjang Primary School has been working hard to improve waste management systems in the school. This has continued since joining the Resource Smart Schools – AuSSI Vic Core Module program in 2008. Promotions for waste programs are advertised to our school community in the newsletter column ‘Sustainability News’. Previously there was a column entitled ‘That’s Rubbish!’
Winning the war on waste
Food waste – the school has had 5L compost buckets in each classroom since 2007. Classroom monitors empty these into two larger 240L compost bins in the Vegie Patch. One class in the school uses its food waste to feed the worms in the worm farm, which started in October 2008. Both worm ‘wee’ and compost are used to fertilise plants in the Vegie Patch.
It is estimated we diverted 4,000L of food waste from landfill last year.
Litter – following on from the success of our involvement in theRubbish Free Lunch Challenge, the school implemented a ‘Lunch Box Policy’. This was largely designed to reduce packaged food from coming to school and develop awareness of litter and packaging issues. This was reviewed and fine-tuned in 2008 and a couple of key changes were introduced. We encourage students to bring a rubbish free lunch to school each day, have eating times for recess and lunch, and as much as possible, keep all rubbish inside the classroom.
We have a weekly competition called Waste Wise Wednesday, where classes compete for a trophy and certificate. These are awarded to the class with the most students with a ‘rubbish free lunch’.
Plastic Police monitors have been introduced to the school to capture litter that does escape into the yard. Each class takes two turns per year to be monitors for a week at a time. They walk around during lunch time with buckets and tongs to find any rubbish in the yard.
As there is less rubbish coming to school, there will soon be a reduction in the need for the school’s dumpster to be emptied twice each week. This will save the school about $40 per week. We have significantly improved the cleanliness of our yard.
Recycling – the school has developed close ties with Melton Shire Council and this has led to an improved recycling program. Previously, only paper was recycled at the school. This year we have been able to introduce a co-mingle recycling system that allows us to recycle all the things we can recycle at home. Class monitors empty plastic recycling tubs from each classroom into larger 240L recycling bins located around the school. One class has monitors to put out and collect the bins each week.
The Council is currently supplying this service free of charge. We have saved $275 compared to last year. This has also led to a significant reduction in recyclable waste going to landfill and reduces costs associated with dumpster emptying.
Paper waste– staff have been working to reduce paper waste in the school as well. Presentations at staff meetings have included promotions for double-sided photocopying and reusing paperfrom messed-up photocopies. A recycle tub has been set up for this purpose and one tray in the photocopier is exclusively for recycled paper use. We still have more work to do in this area, but staff are more aware of paper reduction strategies.
We have no concrete data on paper usage reduction, but from a personal viewpoint, I estimate I have reused about 400 sheets of paper in the last 6 months.
Other– the school also has a shredder that is used by the lunchtime gardening group. Prunings from fruit trees, small shrubs and large vegetable plants (eg.corn) are shredded for use as mulch around the school.
The school has also introduced curriculum programs throughout the school that support our work on recycling and sustainability.