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Regional District of Nanaimo extends project aimed at reducing trash in schools

Committee endorses additional $10,000 for pilot initiative
RDN pilot project aims to reducing trash at schools making it to the landfill. (File photo) An RDN pilot project aims to reducing trash at schools making it to the landfill. (File photo)

A pilot project that focuses on zero waste in secondary and elementary schools has received a little extra time and money.

Six schools from School District 68 (Nanaimo-Ladysmith) and three from School District 69 (Qualicum) were involved in the project, part of the Regional District of Nanaimo’s solid waste management plan to achieve 90 per cent waste diversion from its landfill.

Through its plan, the RDN allocated $70,000 to the initiative that aims to educate staff and students as well as come up with action plans to reduce the amount of waste coming from schools. The funding was to be used for teacher inquiry focus sessions, teacher collaboration time, resources, student leadership opportunities and field trips.

The school project started in January this year and was scheduled to end this June, but it was disrupted when schools were forced to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district requested the RDN extend the project over the 2020-21 school year, for an additional $10,000.

READ MORE: Regional District of Nanaimo’s waste diversion plan endorsed by province

Learning co-ordinator for environmental stewardship, Shelly Gvojich, who heads the project, said even with schools re-opening, there’s not enough to time to complete the initiative and achieve its intended objectives.

Wellington and John Barsby secondaries, Forest Park, Seaview, Mountain View and Uplands elementaries and their SD69 counterparts conducted a waste audit in the first three months. Some schools were on the verge of creating detailed plans that include:

• Teaching students about creating less waste by teaching them how to create reusable products. For example, purchasing sewing machines and supplies for making beeswax wraps;

• Purchasing a school set of plates and cutlery so that less single-use plastic or compostable cutlery would be required;

• Find ways to sort the materials that were coming to the school in a more efficient way and remove all garbage cans from all classrooms;

• Release staff to go around to classrooms to teach students about source separation and how wasteful unnecessary packaging is;

• Provide lunch passes to students willing to take week-long shifts to sit at the source separation bins and monitor students as they put away the remnants of their lunch (to ensure that source separation is occurring properly).

Gvojich indicated that extending the project would allow participating schools to complete their identified inquiry plan and report on them at the end of June 2021.

There is $63,314 left in the project’s funding, which Gvojich said was intended to be used for the initiatives schools came up with after the spring break last March.

The RDN’s solid waste management select committee agreed to extend the project and the request for the $10,000. It will next be presented to RDN board for final approval.

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Michael Briones

About the Author: Michael Briones

I rejoined the PQB News team in April 2017 from the Comox Valley Echo, having previously covered sports for The NEWS in 1997.
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