Magazine article District Administration

California District Cleans Up Its Waste

Magazine article District Administration

California District Cleans Up Its Waste

Article excerpt

PROBLEM

THIS YEAR THE UNION SCHOOL District in San Jose, Calif., was looking to save some money by going green. The 4,500-student district sought to cut down on waste disposal costs and surplus property storage while also helping to improve the environment and educate children.

The district wanted to expand its recycling program, but it also wanted to ensure that its surplus property--such as no-longer-used equipment--could be reused rather than end up in landfills or district warehouses.

SOLUTION

The city of San Jose approached the district with the idea of beginning a "Zero Waste" partnership. "The goal is to reduce the amount of trash so that we are not filling up [landfills], and to either recycle or compost the waste from the school district," says Nan Wojcik, the district's chief financial officer.

The district and the city worked together to purchase compostable plates and utensils made out of corn or sugar cane to replace the cafeterias' regular supplies. By composting these items along with food waste, the district turns what used to be garbage into usable soil, thus saving landfill space.

Taking Out the Trash

The city of San Jose, coordinating the program through its waste management department, spent $50,000 supplying recycling education materials and waste containers to the district. It also covered the cost differential of using the compostable utensils.

To promote recycling, the city helped conduct school assemblies and provided educational materials to teach students about recycling and how to separate the components of their trash for recycling bins. Wojcik says the program is an important opportunity to educate children about how recycling and composting works and its importance to environmental stewardship.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

So far the experiment appears to be working. …

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