Support for School-Based Recycling
The CCC has been working with key partners to ensure that all cartons consumed in schools are collected and recycled.
In 2012, CCC sponsored the Recycling Council of Ontario’s Waste Free Lunch Challenge. As a complimentary initiative, one of the Council’s members commissioned a study to better understand the quantities of cartons currently being consumed in Ontario schools, and how they are being handled. The main findings of the report are outlined below. RCO surveyed Waste Free Lunch Challenge participants and conducted detailed waste audits in eight (8) selected schools using a customized methodology. The vast majority of the 428 schools surveyed (98%) had recycling collection programs in place, of these 84% accepted juice boxes, the remainder (16%) did not. The waste audits were based on material generated over a 24-hr period and included all food and beverage containers. The waste audits found that:
- 67% of juice boxes were placed in the disposal stream; 33% were found in the recycling. Milk cartons seemed to perform better, with 61% in the recycling stream and 39% in the disposal stream.
- Milk cartons and juice boxes make up a total of 7% by weight of the material found in the recycling and compost bins. By unit count, juice boxes represent the highest percentage of all beverage containers (31% of total beverage count), followed by milk cartons.
- Juice cartons achieve high capture rate in the lunchroom (93% blue bin capture rate), but capture rate dropped to 25% in other locations such as classrooms.
Based on the study, students consume on average 42 small juice cartons over a year. Applied to the total number of students in Ontario (1,242,303), this is equivalent to 56 million juice boxes (568 tonnes) consumed annually in schools. The study concluded there is potential for significant improvement in juice box capture and recycling from Ontario schools.
From 2011 to 2013, the CCC also partnered with the Quebec-city based not-for-profit organization Quebec’ERE to deliver educational programs in Quebec schools. The project involved two main components:
- An engagement programme, which included a two-hour presentation by Quebec’ERE staff and various student-led activities, such as a survey for parents and a family pledge to ensure that all cartons consumed at home are recycled. During the 2012/13 school year, 35 primary schools in the Montreal area went through this program. It is estimated that 8.5 tonnes of cartons are consumed on an annual basis by those 35 schools and that approximately 5.4 tonnes (63 %) of these are recovered. Following the program, a number of participating schools indicated interest to implement the necessary steps so that all cartons are recovered for recycling.
- A one-on-one waste diversion support program, aiming to support schools in setting up or improving their school waste diversion program. Through this program key stakeholders and decision-makers in every school, as well as students are involved in order to implement a system that meets their needs. This includes the development of the school’s waste diversion plan and setting up the necessary recycling bin infrastructure. During the 2012/2013 school year, five waste diversion support programs were executed in the Quebec City area.
The project report (available in French only) is available here.
View the project video that has been produced:
The CCC is currently gathering the necessary information to develop a long-term strategy to leverage the receptivity of children to become waste diversion ambassadors and to boost carton recovery in schools throughout the country.