Food scraps program to be rolled out to all Burnaby schools

Katie Liu and Kevin Yao, Grade 3 students at Brentwood Park elementary school, are enthusiastic disciples of the school
Katie Liu and Kevin Yao, Grade 3 students at Brentwood Park elementary school, are enthusiastic disciples of the school's food scraps collection program. The pilot program in nine schools diverted 12,000 kgs of organic waste from landfill. The program will be fully implemented across the school district in March.

A food scraps collection program will be rolled out to all schools in Burnaby school district starting in late March.

The move follows a one-year pilot program at nine schools that saw a total of 12 metric tonnes (12,000 kg) of food scraps diverted from the landfill and turned into compost.

With Metro Vancouver's garbage tipping fees at $109 per tonne in 2012 and increasing by the year, the district stands to save thousands of dollars in disposal fees annually once all 41 elementary and eight secondary schools are on board, said Tim Millar, the district's manager of facilities services.

It will also help Burnaby city hall do its part to meet the regional goal of diverting 70 per cent of  garbage by 2015.

During the pilot, collection bins were placed in school hallways which custodians then emptied into the larger toters for pickup by city crews.

Full implementation will see high schools provided with four food scraps toters and elementary schools with two.

The food scraps would be picked up at least once a week and the district is in discussions with city hall over whether the remaining garbage could be collected as seldom as once a month at elementaries and twice a month at secondary schools, further reducing the district's costs, Millar said.

The nine pilot schools—Byrne Creek, Burnaby Mountain and Burnaby South secondaries, and Marlborough, Second Street, Clinton, Stride, Brentwood Park and Chaffey-Burke elementaries—took a little while to get up to speed, said Millar. At first, there was a lot of picking improper materials out of the bins by administrators, but not anymore.

And for some students, the initiative has been continued at home as well.

"The kids have done such a good job at school, they're going home and telling their parents 'we need to do this.'"

It helps that Burnaby students are now well used to recycling in general. Millar noted that all metal such as old tables and chairs are now recycled, as is styrofoam and even sawdust from woodworking shops, the latter which is mixed in with gardening soil at the district's works yard instead of landfilled.

At Brentwood Park elementary, principal Jillian Lewis said the staff and students were all very proud to hear occasional updates of how much they'd kept out of the landfill.

As for the kids getting used to throwing food scraps into a collection bin instead of the garbage, Lewis said with a laugh, "It probably took the adults longer to make the adjustment than they did."

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