I’m Ann McGovern from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. We’re really pleased to feature some excellent school cafeterias source separation programs. Source separation is when you separate materials for recycling and composting, or reuse, rather than throwing them all together in the trash! It’s a great way to save resources and can help your students and staff learn to be good environmental stewards. There are many different ways to recycle and compost at school, and this video features just two of them. We hope it will give you some ideas you can use in your own school. Be creative! take advantage of the resources for composting and recycling in your area, and for Mass DEP’s GREEN TEAM program. We hope you’ll see that while recycling and composting are wonderful practices, they aren’t magic, and can be done just about anywhere, by all of us. Source separation is really important for schools, businesses, restaurants, even households because we bought these things separately or we’re consuming them separately and we can separate them effectively for proper disposal and the students are learning, or have learned, all throughout Franklin County how to separate their own waste. You, when they clear you, you pick up your tray and put all the things in the right bins and put…and put your food in the compost. Well, I think there’s a couple reasons why composting is valuable in schools. Some, you know, the cost-effectiveness of it, but I think probably more importantly in a school setting is that we’re educating kids to be environmentally aware and friendly and so I think it’s a great learning opportunity for kids to understand that their waste can go different places. We’ve really been able to reduce trash, a lot, in these schools. We are composting seventy five to eighty nine percent of each lunch, of the waste from each lunch. You drive down a road and you see these big big piles of landfills…I don’t want to see that. We want to compost as much as possible. Keep the trash down. Turn it back into some good Mother Earth. You compost to make dirt and help the Earth! Here in the Greenfield Schools, we went out for grant from the Mass DEP The Sustainable Materials Recovery Program school recycling assistance grant. And we’re using it to, or we have used it to, successfully start composting in the Greenfield Schools. So all of the set up for each school is the same in the Greenfield schools. We have a yellow compost barrel, we have a table where they can put their tray down as they go through the sorting line. We have a green, Greenfield, town of Greenfield, recycling bin and we have the trash can that they already had at the school. So as students go up through the schools, or if they change schools, the setup is the same for them with the same signage, and the same barrels and containers at each school. So in each school, students are taught to pour off leftover milk, leftover soup, and any other drinks that they may have. And we just use a very simple white bucket and some schools have a bucket inside of another bucket and the bucket that’s on the inside has holes drilled in the bottom, so liquid can drain through and anything that goes into the liquid bucket by mistake gets caught by that “homemade strainer”. At a few other schools we actually have a colander sitting in the top of that pail, and then the liquid is poured down the drain as opposed to put in the trash! Which they used to just throw away all the liquid in the trash, which is heavy and this is a much cleaner and greener solution. So at each school, we’re using a barrel, a 32 gallon barrel on wheels, and it has a wide opening which I think is crucial so that students can thunk their tray against the side of the barrel. I’ve seen some schools that use just a five-gallon pail, which in my opinion is too small, because food particles end up on the floor or outside of that pail because the opening is not wide enough. So these 32 gallon barrels are lined with 33 gallon compostable bags, and they are one hundred percent compostable in commercial facilities. The barrel is on wheels, the entire barrel is rolled out to the compost dumpster, and then the custodian, or sometimes kids, or the kitchen staff, takes the bag out and puts it into the compost dumpster. Or sometimes they lift up the whole barrel and slide the bag out into the compost dumpster We’re getting about 30 to 35 pounds in each bag and that’s about what the bags are designed to handle. So in my role with Franklin County Solid Waste District I have developed signage, over the past 10 years, of what I actually see in the school cafeterias. So the first bin that the students come to when they go up to the sorting line is trash. So I almost make trash more important than anything else because it is very important to get trash off those trays and into the trash can first thing when they come up to the sorting line. That way little pieces of trash don’t end up in the compost by mistake So the materials that go in the trash are small pieces of plastic, bags, wraps, utensils, straws, packets, things like that. Then they go down on the line the next thing they come to is a recycling bin and that’s mostly items from home lunch people bring in juice boxes, plastic containers, and even aluminum foil can be recycled. And then they pour out their liquid and the compost signage has the three words that I say again and again and again: compost food and paper. Compost food and paper. There are about 20 schools around the county that are composting in this manner and about 18 of those send all their food waste to Martin’s Farm. In our school we separate compost and recycling and trash both in the cafeteria and in our classrooms and It started with Amy Donovan coming in and helping teach the kids how to do it and then every year I do a little review with the staff, before the kids even get here. So that new staff can learn and older staff can just get reviewed. Next you pour out your milk neatly into the white bucket and put your milk carton in the…[Children]: Compost! Compost! Right? And put all your food and paper waste into the compost. The children are better than the adults [laughs] You can teach a child about it. I tell them once. Sometimes they have a question. They’ll ask me Mr.Blake, which one does this go in? I just say figure it out, look at and see what it is, and they do! As you saw my kindergartners they’re five years old. They can do it, anybody can do it. Martin’s Farm came to me and they said “You got a lot of straws in you in your compost. Is there any way that you can do no straws?” And I just went to the kids. I came out here, and I said, you know, “Who really needs a straw?” And they all said “We don’t use them anyway. They are on our tray, we just throw them away!” So I said, “Okay, we’re all done with straws. We don’t need them, just open the carton and drink it,” and that’s what they’ve been doing. No, it’s very easy, my barrels are on wheels, and I just roll them out to the dumpster. The dumpster they gave me for the compost, it’s got a sliding door on the side, just pick the barrel up and dump it in. The milk in the barrel, in the bucket, that goes down into the slop sink, rinse it out. Every couple days I run it through the dishwasher to clean it up. And the trash, there’s hardly any trash, but it just goes in the other dumpster. So what we’ve done with the trash dumpsters at the schools is we have put them on a schedule to be picked up either less frequently and some of the schools have had their trash dumpsters downsized. And so we’ve applied any monetary savings from the trash dumpsters having less capacity, or less frequent pickups, to the cost of the compost dumpsters. So we’re not really saving a ton of money but we’re spending about the same amount of money, and we’re doing the right thing with all this food waste, which for most schools is 75-89% of what is thrown away in the cafeteria and kitchen, comes out to this dumpster and ends up at Martin’s Farm. There are so many different ways to compost at school, and we hope you’ll come up with the best system for yours. If you don’t have a compost facility near you, try composting in your school yard. It’s a fantastic way to convert food scraps into humus, a wonderful form of organic matter that helps plants grow. The composting habits we learn at school can last our entire lives. Together we can make a world of difference. When we compost things it turns into dirt, which helps the planet.