Leeds aspires to be a 'zero waste' city. To achieve this it will reduce, re-use, recycle, repair and recover as much value as possible from waste based on a cultural shift that views waste as a resource to be used in another process. An illustration of the size of this issue can be seen in estimates that, in the UK alone, 8.3 million tonnes of food are thrown away every year of which 5 million tonnes (60%) remains edible. Schools have a significant contribution to make to realise the zero waste aspiration, not only through education but also through their own actions as buying materials and equipment makes up the largest single contribution to a schools carbon footprint at @ 45%.
Producing equipment and resources contributes to the degradation and loss of soils, water, energy, metal resources, biodiversity and forests. Recycling waste can help to reduce this, as the process involves using energy, it is more effective to 'repair' or 're-use' items and better still, where possible, refrain from purchasing in the first place.
A type of recycling that does not require fossil fuel energy is composting; schools can compost any fruit waste with shredded paper and ‘waste’ cardboard to produce soil conditioner for vegetable and flower beds. Some schools are even experimenting with composting school food waste. Product designers are increasingly considering the ‘end-of-life’ of a product; for ease of separation in component materials to re-use or recycle - an approach described as ‘circular’ or ‘closed loop’ economy, which means using the “waste” from one process as useful raw materials for another, mirroring natural organic cycles.
In Leeds, the School Waste Recycling Advisors Project provides a free teacher's resource pack, including a foreword from Cllr Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council, for all Leeds primary schools keen to support their pupils’ passion and concern for the environment. As an editable e-resource it provides everything a school needs to set up, and run, your own team of School Recycling champions. An accompanying pupil toolkit is available for teams of up to 12 pupils that include branded hi-vis jackets, ID badge holders, recycling information cards, flip notepads with ‘top tip’ guidance as well as mini model green recycling bins!
To download a copy of the Schools Waste Recycling Advisors Project please click here
For more information please contact: Schoolwellbeing@leeds.gov.uk