There are two concern that make school leaders hesitant to start lunchroom recycling & composting.
The first concern is the fear of change. Administrators and custodians are worried that composting will create more work in the lunchroom, and sorting lunchroom leftovers may be too challenging for their students. However, as more schools have adopted the We Future Cycle program, and as residential composting has taken off in Westchester, these concerns have subsided. School leaders realize that composting is an important part of a healthy community, and they are now fully on board at the start.
The second concern is money. While implementing and maintaining a recycling and composting program at a school is minuscule compared to many school expenses, every penny counts. We try to use existing bins at the school because reusing is both economical and sustainable. However often some bins need to be purchased, along with signage and compost bags. Annual compost pick up costs several thousand dollars per year. And We Future Cycle must charge a nominal fee to maintains school-required insurance and ensure we can bring in enough people to help educate students and monitor compost bins at an ever-growing number of schools as we expand our reach. Volunteers are wonderful, but most districts do not have a sufficient number of stay-at-home parents who can dedicate enough time to helping us launch and sustain our programs.
What is a school to do? Enter Carton Council, willing to contribute funds to make the We Future program a reality at many schools!
Formed in 2009, the Carton Council is an organization committed to growing carton recycling in the U.S. By promoting both recycling technology and local collection programs, as well as growing awareness that cartons are recyclable, they work to limit the number of cartons that become waste. Since Westchester County’s Material Recycling Facility (MRF) began recycling milk cartons and Tetra Pak containers in May 2016, the Carton Council’s mission to increase carton recycling and We Future Cycle’s mission to increase lunchroom recycling and composting were perfectly aligned.
Carton Council grants have been provided to schools in Rye Neck and Mount Vernon. New schools that join the We Future Cycle family will have the option to obtain a Carton Council grant as well. We are seeing that the grants are having a huge impact on schools’ abilities to work with us, and we are enormously grateful to the Carton Council for making composting a reality at so many Westchester schools!