Last night We Future Cycle had the opportunity to present the school lunch recycling program to the City Council of Yonkers.
Yonkers is the fourth most populous city in New York State with 24,000 students in 39 schools. All schools are using exclusively EPS (Styrofoam) disposable trays. Which means every school is producing depending on size between 15 – 30 bags of garbage per lunch.
Every. School. Every. Single. Day.
Councilman Michael Sabatino is trying to change that. He has proposed to eliminate all single use food Styrofoam items over the next two years. A wonderful proposal.
The School Lunch Recycling Program offered by We Future Cycle changes the way schools organize lunch. Instead of teaching the kids to “just throw it out”, students are taught to empty extra liquids into a bucket and sort their drink container, then students empty their left over food into the compost bucket and stack their tray. Simple.
There is practically no material left that does not fit into either compost, recycling or waste liquid, once Styrofoam trays are taken out of the system and Food Service makes adjustments as to how to serve food.
A school with 1000 students in New Rochelle fits all of their compost and all of their trays into a single 95 gallon toter. Other then that they have 2 bags of milk cartons and 1 bag of plastic recycling. Only two handful of mixed materials as trash. Every Day. 1/4 bag instead of the previous 22 bags per day. A no-brainer, right?
Though it is simple system, there are many moving parts to consider that have to work together to make it successful and that is what make it so difficult. Education of staff and children, training of custodians, re-organizing waste management transportation, contracts with food service providers and then of course the tried and true resistance to anything new.
However thanks to Councilmen like Michael Sabatino and Legislators like Catherine Parker, Sheila Marcotte, James Maisano and many others, things are moving in the right direction. Many Westchester Municipalities have now contacted us to learn more about the program and we are happy to present all its benefits.
Suddenly school garbage with its human, environmental and social cost is suddenly on the radar screen.
NYC has introduced Styrofoam banning legislation, as well as is phasing in the school lunch recycling program, Yonkers can too.