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Bellevue students reduce cafeteria waste in recycling contest

Recycle Robot, made from recycled materials, was awarded to the top three schools in the cafeteria waste competition: Enatai, Cherry Crest and Medina elementary schools. - Courtesy photo
Recycle Robot, made from recycled materials, was awarded to the top three schools in the cafeteria waste competition: Enatai, Cherry Crest and Medina elementary schools.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

 

The challenge: How to reduce the amount of garbage sent to a landfill from a cafeteria filled with hundreds of students? Thirteen Bellevue elementary schools accepted that challenge, and one school got it down to less than half a can for more than 500 students.

The Bellevue School District and the City of Bellevue issued the “Green Genius Cafeteria Challenge” to reduce lunchroom waste, to coincide with America Recycles Day on Nov. 15. On “Measurement Day”, schools competed to see how little trash they could generate in one day, by composting food scraps, recycling, using reusable containers for packed lunches and bringing leftovers home for snacks. The results are in:

1st Place: Enatai Elementary (514 students) – Enatai generated less than half of a garbage can of trash. The school launched a campaign to use “ReUsies” reusable baggies and Tupperware to reduce waste. They also broadcast tips to students, staff, and parents.

2nd Place: Cherry Crest Elementary (620 students) - Cherry Crest filled a trash can three-quarters full. Their green team promoted the competition with posters, announcements and classroom presentations. They formed a green ambassador team with representatives from all levels.

3rd Place: Medina Elementary (519 students) - Medina filled a trash can three-quarters full. They recruited a team of students and parents to help in the cafeteria with sorting recycling and composting to make it a community event.

The 13 participating schools represent more than 6,700 students and staff. Combined, they generated a total of just 17 garbage cans of trash on Nov. 15. On average, that is a little more than one full can of trash per school.

The first-, second- and third-place winners will receive a “Recycle Robot” made from recycled materials and engraved with their school’s name. All 13 schools will receive a certificate in a frame made from recycled computer parts.

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