District continues to increase recycling efforts
District continues to increase recycling efforts
Posted on 09/18/2013

Sorting lunch wasteThe results are in: School District 197 increased recycling throughout its eight schools by 15 percent during the 2012-13 school year. While this is an excellent achievement, the District Sustainability program aims to increase recycling by another 5 percent during the 2013-14 school year. The efforts are part of a campaign called "Recycle Reboot" that established a goal for District 197 to increase recycling by 20 percent during a two-year period. 

Lisa Johnson, sustainability manager for the district, said the idea for the Recycle Reboot campaign came after a study conducted by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Hennepin County and the City of Minneapolis found that 78 percent of the trash that schools throw away could instead be recycled or composted. In 2012, District 197 only recycled 47 percent of its waste.

“While our district had a strong foundation in recycling, the data showed there was room for improvement,” Johnson said. “Last year, students and staff proved that with shared efforts, they could make significant improvements by changing their habits and recycling what they could instead of throwing it in the trash.”

Besides helping the environment, the district’s focus on recycling also has financial benefits. It is about half as expensive for the district’s waste hauler, Dick’s Sanitation Inc., to haul and process recycling than trash. By redistributing waste into recycling, the district hopes to soon replace some waste removal with the cheaper recycling removal.

This school year, students and staff  will continue to work together to boost recycling by another 5 percent to achieve the Recycle Reboot’s goal of a 20 percent recycling increase district-wide.

School lunchrooms are the areas where recycling could increase the most, Johnson said. To help students know how to properly sort their recycling, compost and trash, signs are posted in lunchrooms, and staff members help to remind students about which items go in each container. At Henry Sibley High School, students who are members of the LIVEGREEN Team help monitor the bins and remind their peers about how to sort their waste. 

Additionally, all District 197 schools will participate in the nation-wide Recycle Bowl contest, created by Keep America Beautiful, during October and November. Last year Henry Sibley took 1st place for Minnesota and received a $1,000 cash prize.

To help kick off the Recycle Reboot efforts this fall, Chipotle Mexican Grill donated 750 buy-one-get-one certificates to be distributed district-wide as rewards for students who help meet the campaign’s goal.

“All students, parents, staff and visitors are encouraged to do their part to help increase our recycling efforts this year,” Johnson said. “By working together we can achieve and even exceed our Recycling Reboot goal!”

The district will continue to track and share data regarding its progress on recycling efforts. Quarterly data is included in the District’s Sustainability Newsletters, which are posted online at www.isd197.org/district/sustainability.

Pictured above: Henry Sibley High School students properly sort their lunchroom waste into recycling, compost and trash bins.