Partnership with EcoSchools Canada

Category: School Recycling Support
Time frame: Since 2019
Location: Across Canada
Status: Active

CCC has been partnering with EcoSchools Canada since 2019. EcoSchools Canada works to build sustainable school communities across the country. Their main vehicle for doing this is a certification program for K-12 schools that nurtures environmental learning and climate action.

During the 2019-2020 school year, EcoSchools agreed, as part of the sponsorship agreement, to collect relevant data about carton recycling in Ontario schools through two online surveys administered with school and school board representatives. The first survey (fall 2019) found that:

  • 90% of respondents said cartons were accepted for recycling at their school and over half of them (56%) estimated that about 75% of cartons are successfully recycled. This was encouraging to CCC!
  • The top two barriers to carton recycling in schools were identified as the residual liquid found in cartons, and the lack of knowledge that they are recyclable.

The follow-up survey (spring 2020) aimed to identify potential solutions to address the previously identified barriers. Asked about the feasibility of implementing a residual liquid management station at their school, 19% said it would be very feasible; 57%, somewhat feasible; 24%, not feasible.

Asked about potential efforts to address the lack of awareness that cartons are recyclable, the two most popular responses were putting up posters in key areas of the school (32%) and putting labels on recycling bins (25%).

The other component of the sponsorship involved broadening EcoSchools’ waste audit template to include dedicated measurement categories for drink boxes and milk cartons (previously all recyclable beverage containers were tracked together). In total, 51 schools reported their waste audit data with EcoSchools. The average reported waste diversion rate was 54%. With regards to cartons, the milk carton diversion rate was 76% while drink boxes averaged 68% diversion.

The following year (2020-2021), the focus of the collaboration was the production of communication tools to support carton diversion in schools throughout Canada. The following resources are now available:

CCC continued its support over the 2021-2022 school year, during which 136 schools completed EcoSchool’s waste audit tool using the revised template. Based on the self-reported performance of these schools, cartons made up a significant portion (34%) of the recycling stream and constituted 16% of the garbage stream.

New activities are now being planned for the next two years (2023-2025). In 2023-2024, a contest will be held where schools will be invited to share a picture of a beverage carton recycling best practice as highlighted in EcoSchools’ beverage carton recycling best practices resources (i.e., signage, dump station, labelling bins, etc.). Cash prizes will be awarded to the top entries for Eastern Canada, Ontario and Western Canada. Then, starting in March 2024, CCC will make grants available to schools to support the acquisition of equipment for the recycling of cartons and other beverage containers, such as bins, dumps and trolleys for moving bins.