Taking the recycling option: How to encourage school children

09/10/2009 - 00:00
School caterers know that changing the habits of a generation is a pretty daunting task. So how can school kids be encouraged to recycle in an easy and convenient way? We take a look at the recycling option

Recycling has always been a problem for schools, many of which have over 1,000 pupils, each enjoying at least one bottled drink every day, whether purchased in the school canteen or bought in from home. Taking positive action to recycle the resulting used bottles can be difficult with the pressures of a credit crunch and need for stringent cost controls. Three schools in Stockport, The Kingsway School, Hazel Grove High School and Priestnall School have found a solution offered only by Options Management Limited in the UK. This enables them jointly, to be on target to recycle up to as many as 750,000 bottles in the coming year. Around 10 tonnes of plastic, annually, is now destined for recycling back into a new bottle or other products, instead of going to landfill. With this scheme in operation new benefits are evident. These include access to Options' range of beverages, each meeting current School Compliance regulations, whether sold using vending units or over the counter, in canteens. Similarly, the headache of on site and local litter is addressed which previously came from discarded empties en route to or from school and on campus. Now, partly due to the enthusiasm students have shown to recycle but also by the fact that they are rewarded, there is an impact on the cleanliness of school recreation and local areas. What has bought this change about is the installation of the Options' recycling machine, provided free on loan, under a number of unique EcoVend packages only on offer from Options Management based Newcastle under Lyme. Machines accept plastic bottles, store them and issue tokens randomly, to be exchanged in the canteen or at a vending machine for a free drink. Mrs Horan, catering development manager for Priestnall School said: "We recycle up to 80% of food and packaging waste produced on site. This new initiative has shown how we can recycle drinks bottles at no extra cost, with a huge reduction in litter around the school and renewed enthusiasm for recycling from staff and students alike." Richard Knott, deputy head of the Kingsway School, added: "The introduction of the Options recycling machine has had a very positive impact on our school environment. Students willingly deposit used bottles in the machine helped by the chance of receiving a free drink token and their own motivation to take responsibility for recycling on themselves. "There has been a reduction in litter left at the end of breaks and the dining halls have become more pleasant venues as a result. Each week five large bags of bottles have been collected for recycling by Options. This scheme also helps the school's bid to achieve the Eco School Green Flag award." Paul Ure, managing director of Options Management says, 'Government and industry have identified that for recycling to achieve the levels we need in the UK, it has to be incentivised. Recently we have seen local authorities introduce 'tagging' household bins to measure waste and reward those who discard less. We at Options took a determined policy decision to create a special option for schools (and businesses) to support canteen and vending facilities by taking a new step forward that demonstrates evidence of producer and environmental responsibility for us and our customers. "We are proud to be the only provider of such a service with a neutral costing facility. Equally we want to stimulate students to recycle and effectively change the habit of discarding valuable used containers that are better destined for recycling than landfill." For further information about EcoVend packages contact Anthony on 01782 629888 or email Anthony@options-managment.co.uk

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