Trash task: Waste audit shows most garbage at schools could be recycled or composted

School district trying to reduce the amount of organics in trash.

Godson elementary students completed a trash audit Tuesday.



Even before the milk cartons, discarded sandwiches and unpeeled oranges were separated from the headphones, vacuum cleaner bag, and reams of paper towel, the smell emanating from Tuesday’s Godson elementary garbage audit testified to the challenge facing the Abbotsford school district.

As the City of Abbotsford prepares to rid its garbage trucks of organic materials by 2015, the school district – which uses a private contractor – is also looking to divert its compostable waste from landfills

But the audit of a day’s worth of trash by Godson’s green team and mentors from Robert Bateman secondary showed most waste produced by students can be recycled or composted.

In just 45 minutes, after the removal of organics, plastics, and other recyclables, a heaping pile of garbage had dwindled to just a fraction of its original size. The results were in line with previous estimates that suggested more than 70 per cent of all school district trash could be diverted from landfills.

The district has engaged a contractor at seven local schools to begin collecting compostables this week, and the exercise came a day before organics bins donated by the city were placed in each classroom.

If successful, the project would dramatically decrease the amount of trash created in local schools.

“All food waste, all paper towel, any used paper products with food on them, pizza boxes: it can all be composted,” said school district energy specialist Julianne Pickrell. “That represents about 30 per cent of the waste in a school.”

It may be even more. Last week, a similar garbage audit at Alexander elementary showed that more than 80 per cent of the school’s trash was either compostable or recyclable. At Abbotsford Middle, of 44.25 kilograms collected, barely one-tenth was actually garbage. By weight,  two-thirds was compostable.

The audits aren’t just a statistical survey. After the students finished their work at Godson on Tuesday, they presented their findings to other classes as a way of reinforcing what should – and what should not – be thrown away.

“It’s one thing to hear the numbers, but to have a visual of it is really impactful,” said Pickrell. “To visually see it, you get a lot of reactions.”

Only one kilogram of the more than 20 kilograms of garbage collected at the school Tuesday was actual garbage. The rest was mostly compost.

For Godson green team member Macaylee Godin, the event illustrated how much more can be done to reduce the waste heading to landfills.

“I would think that people would recycle [more],” she said.

Godin said she joined the green team to help make the world a better place. But she expressed disappointed in her school and hopes the audit will prompt students to recycle and compost more.

“I am ashamed with how much paper we have that can be recycled.”

Another audit will be conducted in the spring, after Godson and other schools have been diverting organics for several months.

While the project will cost a little to get up and running, the district hopes to break even over the long-term.

Just Posted

Chances Mission donates more than $1,700 to Food Centre

Donation also includes food for Mission Community Services’ program

Child, 3, survives fall from 3rd-floor window with no major injuries

Abbotsford Police Department spokesperson says toddler lucky to be alive after fall of that height

Abbotsford Angels 13U AA win provincial title

Baseball team now heads to Manitoba for Western Canadian Championships

Blue Angels help drive attendance increase at Abbotsford Airshow

Around 90,000 people attended this year’s event; officials to re-evaluate traffic plans for next year

Mayor calls favouritism allegations by Coun. Moe Gill ‘an absolute fabrication’

Gill has been silent since claiming Henry Braun’s friends had unique access to Abbotsford city hall

VIDEO: Abbotsford International Airshow Sunday

Highlights from day three of the 2018 event

UPDATE: ‘Faint fuel odour,’ ‘sheen’ seen on Fraser River beach after tug carrying diesel sinks

Tugboat carrying up to 22,000 litres of diesel sinks in Fraser River Tuesday morning

Column: Mother orca’s display of grief sends powerful message

The grief of this orca mother may not be visible anymore, but we must not forget.

Seven people with ties to Red Scorpions gang arrested in B.C. drug bust

Delta police have secured 94 charges against seven people, including drug and firearm offences

Second measles scare this summer at YVR

An infected traveller flew out of Vancouver’s airport three times

Judge OKs Weinstein suit, cites casting couch’s history

Actress Kadian Noble can sue disgraced Hollywood mogul for violating sex trafficking laws

Employers to raise salaries 2.6% on average next year: report

Firm points to factors such possibility of more trade protectionism, rising interest rates

PM Trudeau and federal ministers to meet on Vancouver Island

Cabinet retreat will be held in Nanaimo from Aug. 21-23

Most Read