School Waste Recycling Advisors Project teacher resource pack
In countering today’s throwaway culture schools have an important role to play especially in contributing to Leeds’ ambition to be a ‘zero waste’ city.
Waste from English primary and secondary schools currently totals around a quarter of a million tonnes each year, the equivalent of 185 double decker buses every school day (35,150 each year). Lots of this waste ends up buried in landfill sites with the resultant loss of valuable resources and avoidable energy use e.g. a drinks can made from recycled aluminium requires 95% less energy than that needed to make a drinks can from new as it avoids the energy intensive stages of mining and extraction. Similar examples show how greater recycling can bring additional benefits such as saving money and reducing climate change.
Achieving a cultural shift is a long-term process and one that is most likely to succeed the earlier we engage our children and young people so that they develop the necessary skills, knowledge and attitudes to take ownership of this important issue and make an important and useful contribution to minimising waste. Such skills will be even more critical in their future role as effective environmental stewards.
A focus on school waste education will support schools with this cultural shift as well as helping to reduce the amount of material sent to landfill. In Leeds recent recycling figures indicate a move in the right direction with a 7.2% increase in recycling in 2014-15 compared to 2013-14. However, there is still some way to go and the size of the challenge cannot be underestimated as currently, across the country, more than 22 million tonnes of waste is thrown away each year.In Leeds, the average amount thrown away by every household each year is just over 500 kilogrammes, or the equivalent of 5 baby elephants!