When learning is a load of rubbish

There’s no such thing as rubbish. That’s the message from Lee Harrison, the Wipe Out Waste Coordinator/Environmental Education Officer at KESAB.

Mr Harrison today visited Blackfriars to conduct a bin audit with the Primary School students.

The boys were asked to go through the school’s general waste bins and sort the contents into categories including recycling, food packaging, compostable paper, food scraps and 10c deposit containers.

The task helped the boys better understand waste streams and the impact of our decisions on the environment.

Lee Harrison, from KESAB, talks to Years 5/6 boys during the Primary School bin audit.

“Let’s address the R word – rubbish. There’s no such thing; no such thing as rubbish. There are resources,” Mr Harrison told the boys.  

“There are resources that sometimes go to waste. There are resources that sometimes get used, at least partly. There are resources that we haven’t figured out how to use yet. Even the stuff that we don’t know how to reuse, the bit we should add on the end there is yet. We’re clever. We figure stuff out as we go.”

In schools, Mr Harrison said, food packaging was typically the biggest contributor to bin waste. After just one group had finished their audit this morning, the food packaging bucket was almost full.

“The lead category is always food packing, then compostable paper and, I suspect when we get further into the bins, there will be more food scraps coming out,” Mr Harrison said.

Students take part in the bin audit.

He said we needed to put more thought into how we shopped to reduce the amount of packaging going to landfill.

“We are forgetting that recycling is the last resort,” he said.

“There are 10 steps we should be taking before we get to putting something in the bin.”

And when it came to bins, the right bin mattered.

“So, something like the paper towels, compostable paper, if that’s put into the general waste bin, that ends up in landfill and that’s a lot of carbon decomposing without oxygen,” Mr Harrison said.

“Instead of coming back out of the landfill as carbon dioxide, which would be fine … instead, this is coming out as methane, which is 28 more times warming than CO2.

“If this was instead going to an organic collection, that would end up being composted. If it’s getting composed, anything coming off it is just CO2, which is fine, and we can reclaim as nutrients.”

Students take part in the bin audit.

Last year, Blackfriars launched Greenfriars – an action plan to raise awareness of environmental issues and prioritise sustainability across the campus.

Greenfriars Coordinator Trent Allwood organised today’s bin audit. This term, students will also undertake a household waste survey and see a performance on waste reduction and recycling.

Year 5 student Reid said today’s audit would made him rethink his waste disposal habits.

 “You can kill animals. If you don’t put things in the bins, if you just leave them on the ground, then some animals can choke on them,” he said.

“It’s good for the environment if we do the right thing.”

Welcome to Greenfriars: New environmental strategy launched

Blackfriars has launched Greenfriars – an action plan to raise awareness of environmental issues and prioritise sustainability across the campus.


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