Green GCPS: Recycling Program

Green GCPS: Recycling Program

National Recycling Coalition recognizes GCPS
for innovative tray recycling program in schools

In September, the National Recycling Coalition (NRC) recognized GCPS with the 2007 Outstanding K-12 School Program Award for the school system’s Polystyrene Lunch Tray Recycling Program. About a third of GCPS’ lunch rooms participate in the tray recycling program, which involves the efforts of local school nutrition workers and custodians, delivery drivers, and the students themselves. (And more schools are signing on.) The used trays are gathered each lunch period, stacked, and bagged for pick-up. Under-truck storage allows drivers to grab the day’s trays without a second trip.

By the 53-foot tractor-trailerload, trays go to a local recycling plant. (The company, Evergreen Partnering Group, built a plant in Gwinnett, their first in the U.S., after meeting with GCPS staff and seeing the potential for such a project.) A multi-step process—from separator to grinder and extruder to “resin taffy”—turns out polystyrene pellets that are combined with virgin material to form egg cartons, takeout boxes, even new foam lunch trays. Bottomline benefit? Some 6.3 million or nearly 40% of GCPS’ lunch trays were diverted from the landfill last school year.

Need a visual? Placed end-to-end, that’s 850 miles of trays, or stacked up, a pile two times the height of Mount Everest. Of course, fewer trays mean a reduced waste disposal bill, too. Click here for a list of participating schools. Click here to learn more about the state affiliate to the National Recycling Coalition.

Click here for a slide show on GCPS’ Polystyrene Lunch Tray Recycling process. . . from tray pick-up at the end of the lunch period to new lunch trays at the end of the process.

GCPS accepts recycling kudos: From left: Dr. Lisa Skumatz, NRC Awards Chair; Brad Coury and Denise Laskowski, both of Environmental and Supply Services; and David Refkin, NRC Board President.