Tag Archives: school lunch recycling

Update: Carton Recycling Integration Finally Planned for February 2016 in Westchester County



Louis Vitrone just shared that the upgrade equipment is being purchased and a February 2016 start date is being envisioned. That is great news for  Westchester, as it will take an additional 1% of resources out of the waste stream and turn it into revenue for the County.

Original article from 2014:

Milk cartons and juice boxes are a common sight in schools, and so far they are being trashed in Westchester County. In New York City, they are part of the Commingled recycling stream.

We have worked closely with Louis Vitrone, Deputy Commissioner  and Marianne Patronella, Director for Resource Management from Westchester County Environmental Service to bring carton recycling to Westchester. Just in November another meeting between the County and the Carton Council took place to find ways to make it work.

Part of the problem is that if a material is added to a recycling stream, it can really only be recycled if it is sorted. This sorting is done by a complicated sorting system which includes among other optical scanners to identify materials and then sort it via air stream into the correct container. The optical scanner itself is available and manageable in cost, but because Westchester’s Material Recovery Facility was one of the first built, its building doesn’t lend itself to easy equipment changes and the upgrading of the system is complicated and needs proper planning.  Yesterday’s meeting was a giant step in the right direction.

Schools that are using commercial carters such as Suburban Carting can already recycle their milk cartons as it is brought to a different facility that can sort out milk cartons.

Cartons are about 1% of Westchester’s waste stream and are a very valuable resource.

Here is a little educational youtube clip how easy it can be.


2014….Giving Thanks To Great Opportunities for Environmental Change in Westchester

change-strategy-continuum2014 was an action-packed year for We Future Cycle. We are looking proudly upon multiple TV, radio and other news outlet coverage stories of the environmental programs that we offer.

We thank New Rochelle’s Interim Superintendent, Dr. Jeffrey Korostoff, for boldly going where no one had gone before by fully supporting the program and implementing it in all of New Rochelle’s Elementary Schools.

We thank Maureen Caraballo, Treasurer for Hastings-on-Hudson School District, for being the major force to bring the program to Hastings’ schools.

Greenburgh_cornerWe thank Paul Feiner, Supervisor of the Town of Greenburgh, for endorsing us to bring the program to all of Greenburgh’s school districts.

We thank the White Plains Sustainability Committee to endorse us and to recommend the program to White Plains schools. We are very pleased and excited to be presenting this program to the White Plains Administration in January.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe thank the City Council of New Rochelle for endorsing We Future Cycle programs and for working with us to bring the first Food Waste Composting Site to Westchester.

We thank Joseph Carvin, Supervisor of the Town of Rye, for endorsing the program and affiliating with us. Mr. Carvin is also founder of the organization “One World, United & Virtuous.”

Parker-1We thank Catherine Parker, Westchester County Legislator and Chair of the Committee for Environment and Energy, for featuring our program at the Board of Legislators and the Westchester Environmental Summit, as well as  for her continuous and outspoken support. She is the major force behind creating a Westchester-based solution for food waste composting.

We thank the Columbia University Capstone Program for recommending the implementation of the We Future Cycle School recycling program as part of the Zero Waste Initiative to the Town of Mamaroneck, Village of Mamaroneck, and the Village of Larchmont.

We thank the Greenburgh Nature Center for offering a meeting venue to present the program as well as many other earth-saving and thought-provoking environmental presentations.

We thank County Legislator Sheila Marcotte and James Maisano for honoring us with a Proclamation for creating and implementing the program at New Rochelle Trinity School. New Rochelle’s Trinity Elementary School is truly a leader, one of the first schools to implement with an exceptional administration.

We thank the Pelham Sustainability Committee EcoPel for featuring the program and for their efforts to bring it to the Pelham schools.

We thank the Westchester Municipal Offcials Association for endorsing the program and bringing it back as recommendation to their communities.

We thank all the people that support us in our work to bring sustainability and environmental education into the schools as a daily learning experience, so we can raise environmentally-literate children.

Charles Kettering said these famous words: “The world hates change, yet is has been the only thing that brought progress.”  We could not agree more.

Larchmont /Mamaroneck Zero Waste Initiative Recommends We Future Cycle School Recycling Program

payt_epa_logoOn December 9th, 2014 representatives of the Village of Mamaroneck, Village of Larchmont and Town of Mamaroneck were listening to a very informative and well structured presentation by the Columbia  University Masters in Sustainability Capstone Program. The kick off was a presentation by Mitch Green, Town Liaison, explaining how this presentation came about and thanking the Capstone team for choosing Larchmont/Mamaroneck as their project.

0514_boltanskiThe team then laid out the “have and have nots” of the towns, slides showed the percentages of yard waste, curb side recyclables recovered, as well as total garbage collected.  The towns are already exceptionally well positioned with a 63% recycling rate, which is the combination of yard waste and curbside recycling. The goal however is getting to 90%. The team showed several areas of opportunity, which are comprised of textile recycling, food waste composting, “Pay-as-you-throw” and getting the schools involved. carpet-waiting-to-be-recycled

The team outlined that schools and the children within them are the key to changed behavior and their recommendation is to get the We Future Cycle Program into the schools to start that process. Parents learn from their children, as much as the other way around.

The 100+ page report will be posted as soon as it becomes available.

Hastings-on-Hudsons Schools Food Service Manager Supports Recycling

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHastings-on-Hudson school district has changed Food service providers and the new manager Alan Levin is very supportive of the school’s recycling initiative. He worked extensively with We Future Cycle and his staff to find the perfect set up in the kitchen to allow for proper source separation.

Initially the kitchen had garbage cans set up at all locations with only boxes being broken down and placed into recycling. Now the kitchen staff carefully sorts out

all organic waste into composting,

all soft plastics such as the wrapping of drink containers or bread bags,

and all commingled like cans, bottles, salad dressing containers.

This reduces the kitchen waste from 5 bags per day to really just two handful, because only sanitary gloves and soiled soft plastic does not fit into the above mentioned categories.

Mr Levin has shown great support and within days has been able to organize the kitchen to follow the new guidelines properly.

Thank you for supporting Hastings-on-Hudson’s recycling initiative

Hastings-on-Hudson Schools Launched Extensive Recycling Program

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHastings-on-Hudson has launched its extensive recycling program and is looking proudly at a 90% reduction of waste from its lunchrooms as well as a significant reduction in the building.

We Future Cycle helped set up the building to allow for source separation into paper, commingled and food waste recycling. Left as trash is really only plastic baggies and some other soiled things that do not fit into the above recycling groups.

George Prine, the Director of Facilities said that he is amazed as to how little garbage there is left. The Farragut Avenue building, which hosts the High and Middleschool of around 800 students usually generated 17 bags of loosely filled garbage bags just from the lunchroom. With the recycling station in place, it is now generating 4 bags going into food composting, 1 bag going into commingled recycling, and 1 small bag as trash. That is it.

1 week of food waste to be diverted into compost
1 week of food waste to be diverted into compost

This will eventually translate into significant savings for the district in waste management, as about 70 bags of garbage per day are not generated. Instead these materials are source separated and fed into the existing recycling streams. This saves money, and is also much better for the environment.

1 week of commingled diverted into recycling
1 week of commingled diverted into recycling

And we are creating a generation of Hastings students that know what source separation can do and how easy it is. Soon it will be the new normal.

Eastchester Elementary School Is Awarded Green Ribbon Award for Recycling in Washington

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEastchester’s Ann Hutchinson Elementary School has just been awarded the Green Ribbon Award.

This award acknowledges the school’s achievements in taking a comprehensive approach to green schools. The areas encompassed by the award include reduced environmental impact and costs, improved health and wellness, and effective environmental and sustainability education. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan stated that The Anne Hutchinson School is a model of excellence and achievement in these Pillars for all other schools to follow.

Ann Hutch was  commended for the  school’s commitment to environmental stewardship, health, and sustainability and for inspiring our entire school community to aim high.

Dave O’Neil , the 5th grade teacher and driving force behind this wonderful program has been invited to celebrate Ann Hutch’s accomplishments during a nOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAational recognition event on July 22nd, 2014 in Washington D.C.

This school is following the School lunch Recycling Program  and thanks to Dave O’Neil has been showing off its remarkable success  to other schools in Westchester. This school truly buzzes with green energy. We had several organized tours and many districts are inspired to also implement the program. Make no mistake, the students are fully in-charge of the program and the tour. Be prepared to have 4th or 5th grade students tell you all about saving the world, how and what to recycle, how and what to compost and what compost is all good for. If weather permits, one even gets to view the butterfly garden, adjacent to some of the compost bins.

The Ann Hutch Website has the following write up about the Award


“I would like to acknowledge and thank Dave O’Neil, fifth grade teacher for spearheading our initiative to recycle and compost, Vidya Bhat, reading specialist for co-writing the Green Ribbon Award Application, and John Condon for ensuring that our facility follows all the guidelines for energy efficiency.  Most of all, I am grateful to the students and staff of the Anne Hutchinson school for working together to produce a sustainable and healthy school environment, ensuring the environmental literacy of all our graduates….it truly “takes a village”. “

New Rochelle’s Trinity School Awarded Westchester County Proclamation

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On April 29th, 2014 New Rochelle’s Trinity School was publicly awarded a Westchester County Proclamation, signed by Legislator James Maisano, Legislator Sheila Marcotte, and Legislator Catherine Parker. This is a wonderful recognition of the schools never faltering efforts to bring sustainability to the district through consistent teaching and doing.


This award is long in the making. In September of 2011, Anna Giordano brought the school lunch recycling program to the administration and the PTA, then under the leadership of Ines Bolufer-Laurentie, tirelessly implemented it. The PTA spent countless lunches teaching the children and thus creating a culture of environmental awakening.

The School Lunch Recycling Program is very simple, instead of teaching the children to “just throw out your garbage” after lunch, they are taught to separate their lunchroom waste into different recyclable categories. This process reduces and condenses the amount tremendously. Once all the recyclable packaging, compostable food left overs and left over liquids are sorted out, there is actually very little, that does not fall into these categories.

Trinity was not the only school to implement the program in September of 2011, but it was the only one, where the school administration persevered despite of the total lack of support from Central Administration, foremost the Director of Facilities.

Fortunately, Central Administration under the leadership of Dr. Jeffrey Korostoff is now fully supporting the program and New Rochelle is looking to have all of its schools fully converted to source separation and compostable trays by September of 2014. This could not have been accomplished if it had not been for the unwavering determination  of the Trinity Administration Anthony DiCarlo and Inas MorsiHogans.

I applaud them both. This proclamation is well deserved.

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New Rochelle Webster Elementary School is Going Waste Free in all K-3 Classrooms


At around 10:30 am, most younger grades have snack time in class. Out come the plastic baggies that hold the prepackaged chips, or cookies as well as the juice box. A survey showed that one classroom with 18 students generated 15 juice boxes or juice pouches per snack,  as well as between 20 – 30 different single use packaging items. A total weight of 4 lbs per class. 4 lbs may not sound like much, but this pictures shows the amount of garbage coming out of 3 kindergarten classes. Every day.


So, Anna Giordano set out to create the Waste Free Snack program and together with Lovetta James rolled it out in January of 2014.

The program consists of one week of targeted education to the children.  As parents are the ones packing the snack, they also have to be a part of the solution and a letter was sent home to parents asking for their help to get this trashy problem under control.

The principal Melissa Passarelli walked to all the classes and talked to the students about eating more healthy and she asked them what they thought was healthier….chips or a banana. The result was astounding, the very next day, we had 60% of the class bringing in bananas for snack.

We weighed snack waste every day, teachers tallied the daily amounts and incorporated the lessons into Math, English, Social Studies and Science. Remarkably, within a day we already saw drastic reductions of close to 50% in single use packaging and it went steadily down from there on.


After 10 days of daily weigh ins and education the program culminated in the award ceremony, where each child “won” a reusable water bottle and a reusable snack bag imprinted with the schools name. The students were very proud.

The students also pledged to go Waste Free and wrote their name on a leaf to paste it onto the beautiful tree, created by the amazing art teacher.

From that day on, we had a close to 100% return rate of the reusable lunch bag and we started sending any uneaten food, and any packaging back home with the students. Now,  all the lower grades are completely waste free at snack time, and that knowledge has spilled over into the lunchroom as well.

“The first day we sent the uneaten food back home, we were holding our head down, awaiting the storm of phone calls from parents, but amazingly, there was not a single one”,  remembers Greg Middleton, Assistant Principal.

The students at Daniel Webster Elementary School have learned a valuable life lesson. Waste-free starts with me!