Waste Warriors

After attending a BEEC teacher waste workshop staff at Bemboka Public School began instantly implementing waste reduction strategies at the school. When BEEC arrived to conduct the waste audit the ‘Waste Warriors’ of Bemboka Public School were already sorting their waste into 5 streams – landfill, recycling, return and earn, soft plastics and organics. Amazing work Bemboka Public School! Each of the bins was audited to determine the contamination rates in the bins. The students found that there was no contamination in the organics bin and the recycling bin (fantastic result!) – but there was contamination in the soft plastics bin and the return and earn bin. The landfill bin also had items that could have been composted, recycled or sent to soft plastic recycling – so items that are not really waste. The students decided that the main focus for their action plans should be getting the right thing in the right bin. They all thought that this was a problem worth solving. Some of the students had even designed, filmed and created a fantastic video to show BEEC staff during the second workshop at school – and they plan on creating more short films to show at school.

List of waste problems at the school
Students sorting waste
Collecting waste audit data

What have we done so far:

  • Formed a waste team – ‘Waste Warriors’
  • Completed a waste audit with BEEC
  • Completed an action plan workshop with BEEC

What are our biggest problems with waste:

  • Students not always sorting into the right bin

What are we going to do to reduce the amount of waste to landfill?

  • Introduce bin monitors to help students make the correct choice about bins
  • Create two instructional videos – one to play to older students and one to play to younger students
  • Waste Warriors to educate students in each class and at assemblies
  • Waste Warriors to create educational games to play with younger students, and to play with the new kindergarten students when they arrive next year
  • Provide 5 bins for waste sorting in the playground and classrooms (recycling, organic, soft plastic, return and earn and landfill)
  • Purchase outdoor equipment made from soft plastics to educate about closing the loop and reward students for collecting soft plastics

Term 1 2020

Bemboka Public School was granted funding from the Bega Valley Shire Council to support it’s action plans for improving waste management at school.

The school received funding for recycled plastic outdoor furniture to educate the students about closing the loop in recycling, extra bins for sorting and collecting waste and equipment for bin monitors.

The project is already changing the students behaviour around waste with an increase in students talking about the correct thing to do with your waste, more students actively wanting to help solve the waste problem and a decrease in litter seen around the school. It is hoped by the end of the program that all students at the school will know exactly what to do with their waste and to sort all their waste correctly.

Term 3, 2020

The waste warriors at Bemboka Public School completed their final waste audit on the 1st September, 2020. The changes the students have made at the school were evident even before we began the audit!

The results of the audit found:

  • 69% of the waste audited in the first audit was landfill waste. This had decreased to 25% of the waste audited in the second audit.
  • 3.5% of the waste audited in the first audit was recycling. This had increased to 57% of the waste audited in the second audit.
  • bin contamination in the first audit was as high as 57% for the return and earn bin in the first audit. This decreased to 20% by the second audit.
  • overall, there was less contamination in the five bins the students sort their waste into.
  • there was no food scraps left in the soft plastics (in the first audit some of the soft plastic bags had food still in them).

The school has also reported:

  • they have reduced the number of landfill bins from 2 per week, to 1 per week – and this bin is sometimes only half full.
  • they have already raised $267.25 from return and earn for 2020.
  • they have purchased a recycled plastic seat for their playground – saving 16,000 plastic bags from ending up in landfill.
Conducting the waste audit
waste warrior from Bemboka PS
Logo for bins
Students on recycled seat
students in garden