Lunch Waste Diversion

Chadbourne Elementary School has very successfully implemented a lunch waste diversion program at the school. 

Earlier in school year 2011-12, the school replaced one of two blue large dumpster with a green one.  In Phase 1, the school has been diverting all the lunch time compostable waste to the green bin.  As a result, the following does not end up in the landfill on a daily basis:
  • Unfinished milk : 5-6 gallons (milk weighs 8.4 pounds a gallon)
  • Emptied milk cartons: 10 pounds (150 cartons)
  • Other Recyclables: 3-4 pounds
  • Compostable lunch trays: 17 pounds (250 trays)
  • Compostables (food scraps, paper napkins...): 50 pounds

The remaining trash is about 25 pounds.  This means Chadbourne has been diverting 76% of its waste away from the landfill.

Five step process at lunch

Chadbourne students follow a simple five step process to sort their lunch waste.  All the bins/containers are in a single location. 

  • Empty the milk carton (if not finished)
  • Discard the empty milk carton
  • Throw away the trash (mainly plasticware, Ziploc sandwich bags, foil lined juice/milk boxes)
  • Dump the food waste and other compostables (paper napkin, brown lunch bags)
  • Set aside the recyclables (juice pouches, chip bags, candy wrappers, plastic bottles)
    • Juice pouches, chip bags and candy wrappers go to TerraCycle, and not to waste management company
  • Stack the empty tray (compostable, but stacking saves space)

Special events

EcoClub volunteers have been helping with greener parties in the classroom, and providing guidance for sorting food waste correctly at large school events.  The following school/classroom events went green during school year 2011-12:

  • Valentine day parties  in seven classrooms
  • School-wide Open House Dinner Event
  • Field Day
Program coordinator: Luisa Ying