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MN schools help to reduce waste, recycle

A recent Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) study concluded that nearly 80 percent of waste generated by schools could be recycled or composted.

The study also found schools generate more than 483,000 pounds of waste every day they are in session.

The Jeffers Foundation saw this research and wondered what opportunities there were for schools to create less waste. Preventing waste generation is preferable to any alternative method of managing waste -- even recycling and composting. Recognizing this, the Jeffers Foundation conducted contests among Minnesota elementary schools. Schools were asked to document the work they were doing to avoid creating waste.

Thirty-one elementary schools took up the call and submitted applications detailing the ideas they implemented to help students and staff prevent garbage from being generated. The three schools with the most successful and innovative measures received a $5,000 award from the Jeffers Foundation.

All 31 schools had great ideas, so the Jeffers Foundation partnered with the MPCA to design a resource for schools around the state to put in place the ideas that had worked so well elsewhere. The Waste Reduction Awareness Program (WRAP) is now available to any school that is interested in reducing waste and saving money.

The WRAP strategies for reducing waste are outlined on the Jeffers Foundation's new Waste Reduction Awareness Program webpage. This resource gives all schools access to the creative waste- and cost-reduction ideas submitted by schools in the contest.

The Waste Reduction Awareness Program is accessible to any school. Schools can use the WRAP assessment to evaluate new opportunities for waste prevention. Many WRAP practices cost nothing to implement or will result in long-term savings. Waste generated at schools is paid for twice -- once before it goes into the garbage can and once to get it hauled away. Implementing the WRAP practices can cut costs and help schools reduce their environmental impact.