It is undeniable that people produce waste, however it is possible to change the quantities and manage it. According to definition, “any substance or object the holder discards, intends to discard or is required to discard" is Waste under the Waste Framework Directive (European Directive 2006/12/EC). It is necessary that everyone be aware of the importance of minimising the waste that is produced.
Every environment where people live or work will produce a certain amount of waste, and schools are a good example. Most of the schools’ waste is made up of food, paper and packaging waste, some glass, metals and plastics. Depending on the waste disposal system, schools can save money on disposal costs by reducing the amount of waste produced. Reducing waste may involve reviewing the types of resources schools buy and considering ways of cutting down.
The Eco-Schools Programme stresses the importance of the individual’s efforts in minimizing the production of waste, namely, through the following steps:
- Reduce: Reduce waste by changing manufacturing processes so that less material are used or change consumer habits so that less wasted material is bought.
- Re-use: Choose goods and products that can be used again. Waste minimization is not going to reduce waste output to zero. It is necessary to think about what is going to be done with the rubbish left. The re-use of products or materials that would otherwise become waste can provide a range of social, economic and environmental benefits. This is an area where the voluntary and community waste sector can give a huge contribution.
- Recycle / recover: Recycling is one way every individual can help the environment every day - and it is easier to do than it has ever been: make sure that waste is processed and made into another product wherever possible. Composting is also recycling: the nutrients in organic waste are processed and returned to the soil to help more plants to grow.
The operator for Eco-Schools Ontario in Canada have shared a wonderful resource for schools interested in tacking this theme. It takes the form of a Waste Minimization Guide that contains tips for waste minimization efforts in schools, a sample environmental review and sample action action plan. One of the suggested activities contained in the guide is a Waste-Free Lunch event, where schools aim to generate zero waste during meal-time on a chosen day. You can download the Waste Minimization Guide here: http://www.ontarioecoschools.org/program_guides/waste.html .