We just wrapped up our annual school recycling contest! I want to take the opportunity to recognize several schools that had outstanding recycling rates this year. The Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Authority’s recycling center hosts a recycling contest for 35 local schools that recycle with their program called Target Recycling at School. This program facilitates mixed paper recycling at both public and private K thru 12 schools by offering an outdoor collection container, and pickup service. Target Recycling also supports the schools by offering free workshops, presentations, and tours related to waste management and other environmental issues.
For the 2016 – 2017 school year the recycling contest period was limited to eight months starting in August 2016 and ending in March 2017. During this last contest period, all participating schools collected a grand total of 435,710 pounds of recyclable materials with an average of 19.5 pounds recycled per student. That’s the weight equivalent of about 124 mid-sized cars, or the equivalent of 14,906,261 aluminum soda cans. Recycling rates are calculated by dividing the number of students by the pounds of material collected for recycling. Schools competed in one of three categories: elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools with each category having a first, second, and third place winner.
Please join me in congratulating the following schools that placed in the top three in their category. Elementary School: first place, Learning Tree School with the recycling rate of 177 pounds per student; second place, Pleasant Grove elementary at 76.5 pounds per student; third place, Dug Gap Elementary at 75.4 pounds per student. Middle School: first place, New Hope Middle with 65.6 pounds per student; second place, Dalton Middle at 61.3 pounds per student; third place, North Whitfield Middle at 50.3 pounds per student. High School: first place Dalton High with 41.5 pounds per student; second place North West High with 35.9 pounds per student; third place, Coahulla Creek High with 27.5 pounds per student.
Each of the nine schools that placed in the contest this year will receive a certificate of participation and a prize to help their recycling program. For example, schools may receive classroom recycling bins, or carts to help collect recyclables inside the school. Recycling coordinators for each school choose the prize they believe will most help their unique programs. Even though Target Recycling provides collection services it’s up to the recycling coordinator at the school to decide how recycling is collected inside the school building. Most schools have a green team or recycling club with students that frequently help collect recyclables and take them to the main collection bin outside. It’s up to each school whether or not they allow parents or the general public to also use their outdoor recycling bins.
While each school manages recycling services differently, there are five basic guidelines that can be applied to each location.
1.) Organize a team: Each school needs to have a recycling coordinator and a recycling collection team that is available to collect recycling from classrooms and offices inside the building.
2.) Establish a collection system: The team needs to decide how often they will pick up recyclable materials from classrooms. Partner with school officials and the custodial team to establish a system that will work for everyone.
3.) Educate the community: Reminders about what to recycle and where need to be included in the announcements, newsletters, and displayed on signs and posters. Education needs to be constant to help everyone establish a recycling habit.
4.) Set goals: Evaluate the team’s progress by establishing goals. Target Recycling provides monthly recycling rate reports that teams can use to establish a baseline for how much they’re recycling. Each month they can evaluate whether or not recycling has grown, and compare their rates to other schools.
5.) Reward the doers: It’s important to recognize individuals and even classrooms or entire grade levels for their recycling efforts during the whole school year. A simple activity a green team can do is called “Caught you green handed”. Members of the team can be given stickers, pencils, or other small prizes to give to students that have been caught in the act of putting something in the recycling bin.
To learn more about Target Recycling at School visit http://www.dwswa.org/target-recycling-at-school or call 706-278-5001.