For some, the concept of sorting and weighing lunch waste might seem like a sticky, smelly nuisance. Not so for the 200,000 Ontario elementary students that participated in Recycling Council of Ontario’s 2011 Waste-Free Lunch Challenge. These students have embraced environmentalism wholeheartedly and proven that waste minimization is as easy as reduce, reuse, recycle!
During Waste Reduction Week in Canada, nearly 800 schools from 62 different school boards across the province participated in the Annual Waste-Free Lunch Challenge. During the week, participating schools were able to prevent and divert 25 tonnes of lunch material from entering the landfill—that is roughly the weight of two school buses!
“Students have passionately committed to going waste-free. Their results are incredible! Many schools were successfully able to measure individual students’ lunch waste to under 10 grams—that is roughly the weight of two nickels!” said Jo-Anne St. Godard, Executive Director, Recycling Council of Ontario. “The students have clearly demonstrated how simple changes make all the difference.”
Designed to help schools reduce the amount of garbage they generate from lunches, the Waste-Free Lunch Challenge educates students, staff and parents about waste and its impacts. Students were taught how to pack waste-free lunches that use reusable, refillable and recyclable containers. Schools sorted, weighed and recorded their lunchtime waste generation throughout the week— and the lightest schools won!
Thirty schools were recognized as the most successful in reducing the amount of waste generated and will each receive a grand prize donated by Metro Ontario Inc and Tetra Pak Canada, the program’s two corporate partners. Grand prize winners will receive educational experiences for their students, or, $1000 environmental grant for use in school-based environmental projects.
“We are honored to partner with RCO & Metro and proactively support a program that raises students’ and schools’ awareness about the key role they play in reducing waste in landfills. Together, we will protect what’s good for future generations by giving carton packaging a second life and promoting carton recycling,” said Elisabeth Comere, Director, Environment and Government Affairs, Tetra Pak Inc. “We congratulate all of the 200,000 students that participated in this year’s Waste-Free Lunch Challenge.”
“The Waste-Free Lunch Program has helped educators across the province offer hands-on environmental lessons for Ontario students and Metro is proud to be a part of this great Program” said Johanne Choinière, Senior Vice President, Metro Ontario Inc.
Educational skits, school assemblies, 3D posters, songs, student-created videos, recycling sculptures, invitations to political leaders, and front lobby displays communicating daily results are just some of the activities that informed and motivated program participants to continue to reduce their lunch waste.