Stockton’s Westwood Elementary Serves up Student-Run Program Recycling Foam Lunch Trays to Save the Earth students teach community a lesson in conserving resources by turning trash into cash with program that reduced the school’s waste by 20 percent.
With Dart Container Corporation's help, an elementary school in Stockton, California starts a foam lunch tray recycling program.
Westwood Elementary School reduced its overall waste load 20 percent and recycled 90 percent of its lunch trays by cleaning and sorting them and making them available for recycling at the Dart Container Corporation’s manufacturing plant in nearby Lodi, where they are ground up, converted to plastic resin pellets and sold for reuse as an ingredient in non‐food service products, including picture frames or decorative moulding.
“We’re beyond thrilled that our kids have taken on this project with such vigor and thankful to Dart for being generous enough to provide an easy solution to recycle our polystyrene lunch trays – saving our school money and reducing waste at the same time,” said Mary Miller, principal at the K‐6 Westwood Elementary School.
Representatives from Senator Dave Cogdill, Assembly Member Bill Berryhill and Assembly Member Alyson Huber’s office presented Westwood with a resolution to recognize their efforts.
Whelply‐Miller said all of the school’s 600 students participated in year‐long effort, which reduced from five days to four the number of days required for garbage pickup, and generated savings that the budget‐strapped school can use for other critical needs.
Although Dart doesn’t manufacture lunch trays, a key component of the program’s success is the company’s willingness to accept used polystyrene foam products for recycling at its plant at no cost to the public.
“It’s exciting to be here today to witness these children and local educators taking such an initiative to find creative ways that contribute to a more sustainable community,” said Michael Westerfield, Corporate Director of Recycling Programs at Dart. “As a company, Dart is dedicated to raising awareness that foam recycling in California is possible and practical and, armed with that understanding, people will be more responsible in their disposal of single‐use food service items.”
After learning that Dart would accept foam for recycling, teacher Laura Rodriguez modified her curriculum about waste and recycling into a practical lesson for her students. With unbounded enthusiasm, students learned how to keep trays clean and set ambitious goals. After each lunch period, the children line up in the cafeteria to separate and prepare the polystyrene foam trays for recycling.
Dart’s products are made of foam polystyrene, a versatile plastic that includes cups, clamshells, plates, cutlery and more. Often improperly called “Styrofoam,” these products are recyclable and reusable. Foam products generate less waste in their production than paper alternatives, are stable and safe in landfills, and burn cleanly in modern municipal energy‐from‐waste facilities.
The company is driving recycling efforts from its California manufacturing facilities in Lodi and Corona to workplaces across the state, and from its warehouse recycling centers to consumers’ homes in curbside recycling efforts, such as L.A.’s “New to Blue.”
More at The Record (story)