"Litterless lunch" recycling may help schools cut costs

Recycling program hopes to reduce some of the $100,000 yearly hauling costs.

June 27—Recycling everything from plastic bottles and bags to pourable liquids and compostable food scraps, students at Ridgefield Pulbic Schools, in Conn., cafeterias have been learning to dramatically reduce waste this year.

In the next school year, that could end up saving the school system, which spends more than $100,000 a year on garbage hauling. Veterans Park and Scotts Ridge were the two schools where the “litterless lunch” program was most fully put into effect.

In its first full week of total recycling in late May, Veterans Park found that 132 pounds of cafeteria trash could be reduced to just 15 pounds to go in the Dumpster, according to Amanda Cordano of the Green Village Initiative, which pushed for and helped organize the program.

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Sodexo aims to reduce carbon emissions by 34% at its foodservice and facilities management sites by 2025, a goal it says it will reach through such changes as converting cooking oil into biodiesel fuel and using energy-efficient HVAC systems.

In announcing this endeavor toward sustainability, Sodexo—which manages more than 32,000 sites globally—noted that over 7,200 of its sites in North America recycle aluminum and paper, and 8,640 recycle cardboard.

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When I joined the staff at FoodService Director in the spring of 2015, I couldn’t believe how much there was to learn about the intricacies of the industry. My past experience, from kindergarten to my college days to on-the-job meals, would lead me to believe that noncommercial dining was a kind of automated process—an amenity that’s expected, and one you only become aware of if something goes wrong.

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