Waste Audit of Harrington Park School lunch- Sept 27, 2012

As part of the application for Sustainable Jersey Certification, a lunchroom waste audit was conducted at Harrington Park School on Sept 28, 2011. A follow up audit was conducted on Sept 27, 2012. Green Team member and HSA President Theresa Hazelton provided the following information, which is excerpted & edited from her report of the 2012 audit.

Co-mingled recycling was introduced to HP School in the fall of 2011. Prior to 2011, only cans, bottles and plastic were collected and the custodial staff took this to the town recycling center. ALL recyclables including cardboard, paper, brown bags, newspapers, paperboard (i.e. tissue boxes, cereal boxes), paper dairy and juice containers, junk mail, phone books, plastic, glass, aluminum – including foil, steel and tin, CAN be co-mingled in the recycling containers. *Plastic bags, plastic wrap, lunch aide gloves (soft plastic) and Styrofoam may not be included in the recycling and cannot be recycled.

Harrington Park had 4,664 residents in the 2010 census, ~1,460 households and 712 students attended the K-8 (public) school in 2009-2010. Currently, 633 students are registered in the K-8 (public) school for the 2012-2013 school year. The Harrington Park School District employs 95 staff members who work at the school building at 191 Harriot Ave. Harrington Park School has a lunchroom where students in grades 1 through 8 eat in four 25 min rotations through two school periods. Teaching and support staff and kindergarten students do not eat in the lunchroom. The school does not have a cafeteria. Hot and cold lunches are sold as a fundraiser for the Home and School Association. Individually packaged meals, or whole pizza pies are delivered from ten outside vendors, both restaurants and delis. Lunchroom staff, both paid and parent volunteers, serve the food and drinks, and clean the room between lunches. The students are responsible for throwing away or recycling their own lunch waste/trash. The custodial staff, headed by Tom Schillaci, is responsible for emptying the garbage cans and recycling containers form the lunchroom. Waste Management is the solid waste company that HP School uses for recycling lunch waste at school. (As noted above, there is co-mingled recycling). There are (3) 40 gallon blue recycling barrels distinctly labeled as recycling receptacles in the lunchroom set up in a highly visible area of the lunchroom and (8) 60 gallon wheeled garbage receptacles that are moved by lunch aides around the lunchroom to aid in waste disposal. There are additional receptacles marked “plastic”, “cans”, “paper bags”, and “milk” in the lunchroom.

As part of the Sustainable Jersey Waste Audit of Municipal Building School action a school lunch waste audit was conducted by Theresa Hazelton in the fall of 2011 at Harrington Park School, several weeks after school began. The recycling program had been improved over the summer of 2011 with the change to co-mingled recycling and new recycling containers, and it was felt that after a few weeks in to the school year a representative baseline audit could be done. In brief- there were 735 children registered in school for 2011-2012; 684 students were in school on Sept 28, 2011. (The kindergarten children eat in their classrooms- the number of kindergarten students in school was not recorded for this date). The lunch served at school was pizza, chicken nuggets and bagels. 370 students ordered food; the remaining 314 students brought lunch from home. 61 pizza boxes and one 10-gallon trash bag filled with plastic bottles were recycled. Eight bags of trash were produced weighing 81.6 lb total. Of the waste generated 45% were recyclable paper and diary containers, 20% were plastic aluminum and tin recyclables, 25% was food waste and 10% was actual garbage- mostly plastic wraps and bags. After sorting materials that should have been recycled or could have been composted, 1 bag of trash remained that weighted 8.2 lbs.

In the spring of 2012, members of the HP Green Team and the Borough Council met with HP School Superintendent Dr. Adam Fried to discuss a joint effort to push Harrington Park toward a more sustainable future. The Mayor’s office is deeply interested in preserving and protecting the future of Harrington Park and is asking for all town members including HP School to follow suit. As the school is a leading member of the community, Dr. Fried, along with Principal Nitzberg and Head Custodian Mr. Schillacci, gave full support to conduct another lunch waste audit and continue to promote recycling at school.

On September 25, 2012 Borough Councilperson Joon Chung, HP Greenteam member, and HSA President, Theresa Hazelton, along with volunteers Lauri Scappi and Inhea Park conducted a lunch waste audit at school. We asked school Green Club advisors Charlyn Magot and Clare Draijer to aid in organizing any Green Club members that wished to assist join us for a brief time during their lunch period and many students did. The waste audit/assessment was conducted on the trash disposed at all the lunch rotations on Tuesday, September 25, 2012. The lunch served at school on that day was Chinese food, sushi, chicken nuggets and bagels. *There were 621 students in school on September 25th *591 students ate in the lunch room *273 students ordered lunch *The remaining 318 students brought lunch from home *Three full bags of trash were produced – for a total weight of 48 pounds that day (food waste accounts for the majority of total weight, recyclables account for majority of volume) *Of the waste generated (volume): 50% plastic, aluminum and tin recyclables 25% food waste, including compostable chip bags (garbage) 15% paper and dairy containers (recyclable) 10% actual garbage (mostly plastic wrap and bags) *After sorting materials 16 lbs should have been recycled, 29 lbs was food waste and 3 lbs of actual trash remained.

Recommendations: *Only two types of containers should be used in the lunch room: blue recycling receptacles and gray trash receptacles. The other labeled receptacles cause confusion. *Further educate lunchroom staff (from the top down, teachers and support staff) as to co-mingled recycling, and what can be included *Further educate students and continue friendly recycling competitions *Staff member assigned to each garbage can turn away recyclable items. * Consider composting – in the meantime food waste will continue to go into the trash *Set a goal to remove ¾ of the 16 lbs of recyclables from the trash AND recycle them. This will remove 12lbs of recyclable material a day from the waste stream (60 lbs a week/2,160 lbs for the school year) *A follow up waste audit should be scheduled for spring 2013.

MAS comment- Note the reduction in total volume of trash: 81.6 lb for ~630 students in Sept 2011 vs 48 lb for 590 students in Sept 2012 and in actual trash- 8 lb vs 3 lb. The emphasis on recycling has had a significant effect!

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This entry was posted in Composting, Recycling, School, Sustainable Jersey, Waste Disposal. Bookmark the permalink.

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