New Rochelle’s Trinity Elementary school is the first school in the District to sort out all compostable and recyclable items from the lunchroom. The results were simply amazing. Dr Korostoff, New Rochelle’s superintendent, is personally overlooking and supporting its implementation.
New Rochelle’s food service provider Whitson has been very helpful in eliminating items from the lunchroom that were problematic to sort.
The We Future Cycle school lunch recycling program is very simple, the children empty their left over drinks into a bucket, then sort the drink container, they empty their left over food into the compost and they stack their trays. Any untouched food items go into the share basket, any extra plastic goes with the plastics. Done!
The only thing left in the regular trash are very soiled plastic bags, ripped chip bags or yogurt pouches. That is IT!
This is lunch garbage from a school with 1,200 kids. Here the students just mindlessly dump all their waste into garbage cans and the custodians carry all these bags out during a time period of 2 hrs.
In Trinity, the children were taught and supervised (by me) to source separate. The result were that we had:
- 4 small bags of heavy food left overs mixed with napkins as compost
- 1 bin of plastic recycling
- 2 bags of milk cartons and
- a neat pile of stacked trays.
The food and trays fit into a 95 gallon toter to be picked up and composted.
It is clear that with this kind of reduction, there is no need for TWICE daily pick up anymore and the District can save tremendous money, that is right now spent on labor, transportation, fuel and tipping fee.
Since I brought this problem to light, and publicly insisted on it being addressed, New Rochelle School District managed to reduced its overall garbage by 23% and that is really only thanks to the cardboard recycling now actually working in 9 out of 10 schools. Plastic recycling still only works in 3 schools, all others have much potential for improvement.
Once all compost is out of the system too, we can shared services with the City and have a potential saving of 500 – 600,000 per year currently spent on waste management.
However, the success of this program depends on the adults in the lunchroom.
The district contracts with Aramark for $700.000 to provide 4 Supervisors. Mr James Purdy, an employee of Aramark,Supervisor of all custodians was present at the roll out of this earth saving, environmentally necessary, socially beneficial and tremendously cost savings program.
Instead of actively instructing his staff, consisting of 2 hourly lunchroom cleaners, he maintained that they cannot be expected to help supervise the stations. He also said, that they were too busy with sweeping the floors and cleaning the tables.
This program reduces the work load of the cleaner staff tremendously, because they do not have to carry out 22 bags of trash anymore during the course of 2 hrs, instead they have to empty the liquid bucket once in the middle of lunch and empty the compost twice or thrice depending on how heavy they want the 1/4 full bag to get.
In my opinion, leaving the certainty of reducing garbage related costs tremendously in the hands of a Custodial Supervisor that maintains that 2 hourly cleaners in one lunchroom cannot be expected to supervise the station may not be the best way to spend our money.