Trash Smashers

Bournda Environmental Education Centre visited Candelo Public School in Term 3, 2019 to talk to the students about waste and to conduct a waste audit. A very enthusiastic bunch of Stage 1 and 2 students did a fantastic job of auditing all the playground rubbish bins. Students at Candelo had already been collecting FOGO, recycling and landfill waste – so all three bins were audited. The students at Candelo showed BEEC some of the great things they are already doing at school – collecting textas for recycling, making their own glue tubs to avoid glue stick waste and bringing their own containers in for use in the canteen. It was exciting to see all of these things. It was also really great to see that there was almost no contamination in the FOGO bin. What the students did find, that they thought was a problem worth solving, was that the landfill bin had lots of FOGO items, recycling and soft plastics in it. So BEEC returned to Candelo PS and assisted the students to write up some action plans for the school. There were some great ideas including having bin monitors to make sure the right thing goes in the right bin, introducing FOGO-able containers to the canteen and teaching students how to make no-waste snacks for their lunch boxes.

waste team of students
Brainstorming solutions
Texta recycling at school
students sorting waste

What have we done so far:

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

What are our biggest problems with waste:

  • Landfill bin has lots of FOGO and recycling items in it
  • Canteen using non-recyclable or FOGO-able products
  • Lots of soft plastics coming to school

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

  • Provide FOGO caddies in all classrooms, staffrooms and canteen
  • Trial FOGO-able containers in the canteen
  • Supply canteen and staff room with non-cling wrap options
  • Have bin monitors responsible for making sure waste is sorted correctly and FOGO caddies are emptied
  • Teach students how to make waste free snacks for lunch boxes (such as muesli bars) and send recipes home to families
  • Continue to encourage waste free lunches coming from home

Term 1 2020

Candelo Public School has received funding from the Bega Valley Shire Council to help their current FOGO program – with additional caddies and liners for all FOGO bins as well as canteen containers that can be put into a FOGO bin after use. Equipment for bin monitors and prizes for students have also been included in the funding as well as support to help students to learn to cook waste free healthy snacks for their lunch boxes.

The school hopes that the program will help all students become more aware of what items need to go in to what bin and that there will be an increase in students sorting their waste correctly. They also hope that all students will become more aware of all the items that can go in FOGO bins including soiled paper towel and canteen single use containers.

Term 4 2020

The Trash Smashers at Candelo Public School completed their final waste audit on 12th November, 2020. The students have placed sorting bins in all classrooms, the playground and the staff room including FOGO bins for paper towel in the toilets, they have designed ‘Trash Smasher’ t-shirts for bin monitors, they have an ongoing bin monitor system, all students at the school have participated in a beeswax wrap making program and are now using them at school, students provide their own containers to the canteen and re-usable containers have been purchased if students forget to pack their own.

The results of the audit found:

  • 42% of the total waste audited (by weight) in the first audit was waste going to landfill. This had decreased to 19% of the waste audited in the second audit.
  • 27% of the total waste audited (by weight) in the first audit was going to FOGO. This had increased to 52% of the waste audited in the second audit.
  • 0% contamination in the FOGO bin and 2% contamination in the recycling bin.
  • 15% reduction of soft plastics in landfill bin (from 34% o 19%).
  • 20% reduction of soiled paper (e.g. used paper towel, tissues) in the landfill bin and a 35% increase of soiled paper in the FOGO bin.
  • Less contamination in all three bins (see graphs below).

Both teachers and students at the school are very supportive of the waste education and reduction program. All the staff I spoke to at the school were very aware of the program and actively discussing solutions and acting on them. The Trash Smashers are in Stage 2, so will be able to continue with the program at the school for a number of years before heading to high school. I look forward to seeing the Trash Smashers continue to sort and minimise waste at their school over the coming years.

Candelo PS waste audit result graph