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School district trashes traditional ideas about garbage

Champions of Change: Fort Langley Elementary students Daniel Galbrith and Tayler Lawrence show off the new recycling and waste bins that will be introduced in schools throughout the Langley School District.  - submitted photo
Champions of Change: Fort Langley Elementary students Daniel Galbrith and Tayler Lawrence show off the new recycling and waste bins that will be introduced in schools throughout the Langley School District.
— image credit: submitted photo

Langley School District is hoping to be the first in Lower Mainland, if not B.C., to have every school recycling organic waste as well every other kind of recyclables.

It’s going to be a huge switch over for both students and teachers, as garbage cans in classrooms will be removed.

Students will have to get rid of their waste in a green bin for food scraps and organic waste, a blue bin for recyclables, and a black bin for everything else.

The bins will be placed in the hallways.

The program falls on the heels of a successful pilot project at Walnut Grove Secondary and Fort Langley Elementary last year.

WGSS was initially chosen for the pilot thanks to the student members of the school’s Environmental Club who had lobbied for an expansion of their recycling program.

For years, the students had been discussing ways to better manage waste at the school and decided to take action by writing letters and emails to the Township and contacting the School District. Fort Langley was selected as an appropriate elementary location due to its proximity to Walnut Grove Secondary.

“I feel pretty proud that something that we started here at our local school is now affecting people all over our District and changing things for the better,” said WGSS student River Leuba, who was a part of the original group who lobbied for the program.

Some Township staff went “dumpster diving” at WGSS and did a waste analysis.

“Seventy per cent of our waste can be reduced by recycling,” said Debby Sansome, the school district’s director of environment.

The change means students will be expected to throw their food waste, muffin wrappers, fruit peels, napkins, paper plates and pencil shavings into organic waste bins.

Trustees questioned about the smell and bugs that usually come with organic bins.

Sansome said the bin will be taken away every two days. She also pointed out that putting a couple paper towels on top of the organic waste absorbs the odour.

To get everyone on board, schools will be asked to create Green Teams.

This program will be implemented over time this school year, said the district. Already 12 schools have asked to be trained in bringing in the bins.

With tipping fees for waste collection set to escalate in the near future, Sansome said the program will avoid future increases in district costs through the diversion of waste while educating our students in environmental awareness.

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