Council helps Mullum High students with waste audit

To reduce waste and improve recycling, Mullumbimby High School’s Green Group is doing an audit of the school’s waste to find out where students and teachers can do better when it comes to recycling and resource recovery.

Sarah Child, Byron Shire Council’s Resource Recovery Education Officer, is sharing her expertise with the students talking about changes in recycling and the importance of avoiding contamination.

“The students at Mullum High are amazing and I am thrilled to be able to work with them to improve recycling and resource recovery because what they learn at school is then also replicated at home,” Ms Child said.

“Mullum High has recently implemented a four bin system – recycling, bottles, general waste and organics – and to see exactly what is going into the bins we emptied them onto the ground and inspected them,” she said.

“We found all the bins had some contamination, but you have to remember that there are more than 650 people using these bins every day, and this is just the beginning so it is good to see where we can improve.

“What was valuable for the students was to look at things that are contaminating the recycling stream such as lids on bottles and small sauce containers and we identified a lot of bottles that can be recycled through the Return and Earn scheme.

“We also identified a problem with sushi containers and takeaway coffee cups being put into recycling bins.

“These are not recyclable through the kerbside system, so they need to go in the general waste – or better still I am sure the students will be looking at reusable alternatives.

“Now that they know what the problems are the Green Group can start educating the rest of the school and implement behaviour change,” Ms Child said.

The Green Group is made up of students from years eight, nine and 10 who are passionate about the environment and waste innovation.

The group was successful in receiving a NSW Government Sustainable Schools grant to help them achieve its goals of:

· Eradicating non-recyclable and non-compostable waste from the canteen

· Establishing separate waste bins for recycling, green waste, paper and cardboard

· Setting up a compost farm at the school’s agricultural farm.

“Well done to the great kids in the Green Group and their teacher Kayleigh Mast for really leading the way in this area and making waste diversion second nature at school, at home and at work,” Ms Child said.

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