Schools#2 Cafeteria Composting Programs - Cambridge


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  • In 1992 we began selling home compost bins – over 3,000 sold to date. We’ve offered dozens of worm composting workshops to hundreds of residents since 2004. It’s a good option for apartment dwellers. Commercial collection began in Sept 2006, and serves over 70 customers. Residential drop-off program followed in 2008 at our Recycling Center and a local Whole Foods. Lunchroom composting PILOT programs began March 2009 and schools were added March 2010, November 2010.
  • 2004 LUNCH WASTE SORT Lunch sort from 1 school to get snapshot of volume from schools Determined that schools are small generators and don’t justify a route on their own Needed businesses on route -- schools could piggyback Intern surveyed different manufacturers of biodegradable products and cost was 3x more Original idea had been to buy biodegradables & start composting @ same time… unf. too expensive. 2005 GRANT To see if we could bring the price of biodegradables down through a purchasing cooperative Connected with large institutions (universities, hospitals, prisons) No purchasing collaborative set up, but Few years later, biodegradables are now on state contract GRO20 (Nature Friendly & Cereplast) But still not cost competitive for schools to switch out Roots and Shoots group -- Sprouts of Hope (2007) Very active group of students. Presented before the School Cmte about alternatives to Styrofoam, circulated a petition School Cmte asked School Dept to look into alternatives. DPW & Schools determined the best way to green the cafeteria was to compost DPW & Schools also decided that the switch to biodegradables would be made when the whole selection of cafeteria disposables was available.
  • Commercial collection enabled us to start school composting.
  • 12 K-8 public schools in Cambridge and 1 high school. 6,100 students. Recycling programs in place since 1990s. Styrofoam trays from lunchrooms are recycled locally through a Boston Public School program. Have been recycling styro since mid-90’s
  • Styrofoam is recycled through STRIVE. STRIVE is a vocational program for students with disabilities. Piggyback on the Boston Public Schools lunchroom Styro recycling program. Have been doing this since 2000. HERE IS A PHOTO OF THE RECYCLING EQUIPMENT. Contract, charge per pound. SCHOOL DEPT PAYS over $10,000 a year. Daily collection of Styrofoam from each school. Students scrape food off trays. Trays go into clear plastic bags in a stand. They shred, wash, dry, melt and make them into pellets. Pellets are shipped to a north shore company to be made into new trays and other plastic items. Expensive per ton. Long view: We’d like to provide alternatives to Styrofoam.
  • Drew on experience of Northampton Received a great deal of FREE technical assistance from San Francisco Dept of Environment – Tamar Hurwitz – part of her job to help other communities. Planning Emphasized the crucial role of principal & custodian Documents which we used as templates, and tailored for our use: letters home, step by step guide, teacher materials, assembly script Images for lunchroom compost sign Make it dynamic visually / thematics Phoebe the Phoenix, a magical animal promoting composting and recycling. Took about 1 year to launch 1 st program. Had committee with staff from DPW, School Dept, & Health Dept., (of course the principal, senior custodian, lead teacher).
  • Used SanFran education model: Recycling and Composting protect nature & animals On the day of the program launch, hold a school-wide assembly. Reinforce: Recycling and Composting protect nature & animals Photos of several animals, shown one at a time, very big projected on the screen. Got the kids really riled up and very excited, cheering for these animals. Very effective.
  • Logo we developed. Took some time. Kids came up with it, found it inspiring. Brands it / legitimacy – Showing that it’s a campaign that the adults support. Ties the program together
  • Kept using the worm and apple mascot, let schools come up with their own slogan. Branded outreach materials appear in advance of the program starting. Materials appear throughout the school. BEFORE: banners, classroom signs, FAQ posters, letters home, newsletter and morning announcements, countdown LAUNCH DAY: table tents, commitment poster (CBSM – social marketing), student monitors wearing aprons or medallions to identify themselves, stickers/buttons for each student
  • Left to right: Trash – regular barrel Liquids – 5 gal pail. Don’t want liquids in the compost, makes it messy. DPW is trying to work with schools to keep liquids separate as best practice for rodent control. Milk cartons (not all schools have this) Compost – yellow barrel – food and dirty paper – even meat, bones, peels  industrial facility Styrofoam Table for younger kids to set down their trays At the assembly: Showed what the lunchroom setup would look like. Get them comfortable with it. Pictures of the new set up are posted in classrooms in advance. One classroom for each lunch period is trained before launch, i ntroduced to the new program in detail in advance. Students take turns for first few weeks. Student monitors & DPW staff, teachers, parent volunteers in lunchroom for first couple weeks, spot check as needed. Principals / teachers work with grades/lunches that are having a hard time getting it right. Factors that affect volume of organics collected If the kids like the food served Required gov’t food portions # kids bringing lunch from home – more likely uneaten food brought home Whether milk cartons are composted If teachers bring food scraps from home Whether classroom snacks are composted If they are in high school and can go across the street.
  • For each station: Yellow compost barrel. Slim jim for milk cartons. Bucket for liquids. Biodegradable bags. Signs for barrels. Good signage important. Toters from the hauler. Custodian support and buy-in cannot be emphasized enough. Really need to have them on board and committed to CLEAN compost and success of the program. Trash is lighter and less messy. Liquids separation. Removing contaminants. Collection is easy. After lunch, bags are tied off and put in toters. Can contain the volume in a few toters. (More are needed if you’re doing milk cartons.) Toters are set out once a week for pick up.
  • At the assembly, when training monitors, and when visiting the lunchroom: Explained the process of collection to becoming soil -- “Can a WORM eat it?” Talked about the farmer’s need for no contamination – connect them to the quality. Put a face to it. Farmer can’t have litter all over his field.
  • 3 schools composting, 10 more to go PRINCIPALs need to want to do composting. Finding the right entre point for the different schools. Averaging 15 – 20 lbs per 100 students / day 18+ tons collected Mar 2009 – Mar 2011 Community Enthusiasm & Pride May 2010 visit from Jane Goodall to congratulate King Open school for composting!
  • Now planning with a school takes about 6 weeks, includes meetings with: principal, head custodian and lead teacher All teachers All custodians, kitchen supervisors and lunch aides Lead teachers and classrooms All students at school wide assembly morning of program launch Be mindful not to launch programs right before school vacations or holidays. Need 3 solid weeks of program before time off (Thanksgiving/Xmas, spring, or summer break). We’ve developed a “5 easy steps” document to launching composting to interest principals Have a thorough “Step by Step” guide for getting into /understanding the details. Costs? Biz route made it possible One-time expense for barrels, posters Ongoing expense for bags, collection 1x/week collection makes it economic DPW funding collection with leftover grant funds, School Dept will pay next year when those funds are depleted
  • Schools#2 Cafeteria Composting Programs - Cambridge

    1. 1. Setting Up Food Waste Composting for School Cafeterias Meryl Brott, City of Cambridge Recycling Program Manager [email_address] 617-349-4836
    2. 2. The Story of Composting in Cambridge… <ul><li>Home compost bins sales (1992) </li></ul><ul><li>Worm composting workshops (2004) </li></ul><ul><li>Commercial collection (2006) </li></ul><ul><li>Residential drop-off (2008) </li></ul><ul><li>School composting (2009) </li></ul>City of Cambridge
    3. 3. Background <ul><li>Lunch Waste Sort (2004) </li></ul><ul><li>35 lbs per 100 students / day </li></ul><ul><li>Composting to come 1st </li></ul><ul><li>Replace Styrofoam 2nd because biodegradables 3x the cost </li></ul><ul><li>Grant on Biodegradables (2005) </li></ul><ul><li>List of buyers & quantities and issued RFP </li></ul><ul><li>2 vendors on state contract </li></ul><ul><li>Limited product selection (small bowls, no spork kits) </li></ul><ul><li>Sprouts of Hope (2007) </li></ul><ul><li>Presented before the School Cmte </li></ul><ul><li>School Cmte asked School Dept </li></ul><ul><li>to look into alternatives. </li></ul>
    4. 4. Commercial composting in Cambridge. Food waste collection service up to 6 days a week.
    5. 5. Cambridge Public Schools <ul><li>12 K-8 public schools in Cambridge and 1 high school. 6,100 students. </li></ul><ul><li>Recycling programs in place since 1990s. </li></ul><ul><li>Styrofoam trays from lunchrooms are recycled locally through a Boston Public School program. </li></ul>
    6. 6. STRIVE - Styrofoam Recycling <ul><li>Boston Public Schools vocational program in Brighton. </li></ul><ul><li>Contract for daily collection of Styrofoam from each school. </li></ul><ul><li>Empty trays go into clear plastic bags in a stand. </li></ul><ul><li>Cleaned and pelletized, shipped to local company. </li></ul>
    7. 7. San Francisco Food to Flowers
    8. 8. Food to Flowers
    9. 10. Education
    10. 11. Lunchroom Setup
    11. 12. Operations <ul><li>Process: </li></ul><ul><li>Trash is lighter, cleaner. </li></ul><ul><li>Liquids down the drain. </li></ul><ul><li>Contaminants removed. </li></ul><ul><li>Easy storage. </li></ul><ul><li>Pick-up once a week. </li></ul><ul><li>Materials: </li></ul><ul><li>Yellow compost barrel. </li></ul><ul><li>Slim jim for milk cartons. </li></ul><ul><li>Bucket for liquids. </li></ul><ul><li>Biodegradable bags. </li></ul><ul><li>Labels for containers. </li></ul><ul><li>Toters from the hauler. </li></ul>
    12. 14. Results! <ul><li>3 schools participating, 10 more to go </li></ul><ul><li>Averaging 15 – 20 lbs per 100 students /day </li></ul><ul><li>18+ tons collected Mar 2009 – Mar 2011 </li></ul><ul><li>Community Enthusiasm & Pride </li></ul><ul><li>May 2010 Jane Goodall visits the King Open! </li></ul>
    13. 15. Step by Step Lunchroom Composting Guide (At click on About Recycling, then Schools, then Recycling Collection)
    14. 16. Meryl Brott, City of Cambridge Recycling Program Manager [email_address] 617-349-4836