Waste Management In Action

School’s back to a new Recycling approach

School’s back to a new Recycling approach

Schools across Australia are welcoming back students, and as the focus shifts from the pandemic, many schools are reassessing their sustainability programs, with waste and resource recovery at the forefront of changes.

Source Separation Systems have worked with schools for over fifteen years. Recently the team have noticed a dramatic increase in the number of schools reassessing their recycling programs, triggered in part by recent government grants. As Emily Coverdale explains;

“We have had an influx of schools contacting us to discuss the transformation of their recycling programs. The curriculum is increasingly focused on sustainability, and many passionate teachers are looking at ways to change their practices so that students can learn about environmental strategies as they participate. It’s a much better experience for students, and certainly a better outcome for schools.”

There are a few key projects which are proving to be the focus areas for schools.

  1. The Introduction of Five Streams to optimise Classroom Recycling.

School’s back to a new Recycling approach

Separating waste at the point of generation is the most effective way to optimise recycling, so it makes sense that one of the key focus areas for schools is better classroom diversion.

Particularly in Primary Schools, the MURFE Classroom Set and Food Scraps Caddy are proving to be a popular option as teachers seek an efficient solution which has an small footprint, whilst also providing the required five streams commonly identified in school waste audits.

Moving beyond the three streams of Landfill, Paper and Recycling, modern school audits typically highlight Organics and Soft Plastics as key streams. When you consider the amount of food scraps and food packaging kids generate, it’s not surprising that this is such a large proportion of waste in schools. Given the increasing availability of organics processing facilities and soft plastics programs such as Redcycle, these streams are now essential to minimise landfill.

The MURFE units have been designed for purpose, being manufactured in vibrant colours consistent with Australian Standard Waste colours. They feature effective graphics identifying Landfill, Recycling, Paper and Soft Plastics. Organics is then collected separately in a Kitchen Caddy lined with Compost-A-Pak liners.

All units feature useful handles, so many schools are getting the students involved in transporting each stream to larger units, ready for collection. This reinforces the student’s sense of responsibility for the waste they generate. Programs such as nude food days and art competitions using recyclables, are also proving effective in promoting recycling outcomes.

  1. Source Separation Stations in Communal Areas

School’s back to a new Recycling approachIn communal areas, the MultiSort Recycling Units are a popular solution, simply because they are so easy to use.

Often kicking off with a waste audit program to identify the streams and volumes, many schools are then placing these modular stations into their communal spaces, including hallways, staffrooms and eating areas, with the aim to simplify recycling and ensure sustainability is visible as a priority.

A convenient 60 litre size, these MultiSort units feature several best practice features, which ensure diversion rates are optimised and contamination is minimised. The lids are manufactured in bright colours which are consistent with Australian Standard Waste colours, and each stream has a differentiated aperture, around which text and symbols are printed directly onto the lid for durability. Many schools are also choosing to customise signs through Source Separation Systems’ Recycling Template, which provides further clarity for streams and encourages ownership.

A powerful case study, the popular MultiSort 60 litre bases are also made in Australia, from up to 100% post-consumer recycled content. Most commonly this includes bottles and food packaging items deposited in roadside council bins, which are then processed in Australia for recycling. This is a powerful example of modern recycling, with the items students are so commonly depositing for recycling, being processed to make the very bins they are using.

  1. Compost Units as an example of Closed Loop Recycling

School’s back to a new Recycling approachComposting food is another powerful example of Closed Loop Recycling! With a future of limited resources, understanding closed loop recycling and embracing technology to reprocess resources, rather than use virgin materials, is the key to a more sustainable future.

Many schools are introducing gardens with Composters to get kids involved in growing food and composting. With the right systems in place, such as CompostersOrganics Caddies and Compostable Liners, diverting food scraps from the classroom into composters along with the school’s garden waste is a surprisingly easy process. The resulting compost ensures the school’s green spaces thrive.

Many schools are even setting up their own native ecosystems, with planting, native beehives and insect friendly gardens, to get kids involved in thinking about diversified ecosystems.

Are you keen to discuss how your school or community group can improve their sustainability?  The team at Source Separation Systems are available to discuss on 02 49 537 644.

This article is supplied material by Source Separation Systems. To visit their website, click here.

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