Beginning a program that both teaches students about sustainability and saves the school money by reducing trash pickups, Chula Vista School District now has its students recycling their foam lunch trays every day. In a district of about 28,000 students, they manage to recycle about 90,000 trays every week as part of P&R Paper Supply’s “Going the Extra Mile” program. Because the program does not require a blue bin, students can simply knock any extra food off of the tray before stacking it on a cart. Afterward, the cart is picked up by Dart Container, a manufacturer of foam containers.
Dart ships the foam to its center in Corona, where it is chopped, washed in 160 degree water and then placed in a thermal densifier, which dries the material at a temperature of 250 degrees. The dried material is sold to NEPCO, another manufacturer that uses repurposed foam to make picture frames and crown molding. This represents the perfect example of “upcycling,” where a low-quality material is actually recycled into something of a higher quality than its original form.
The superintendent of Chula Vista, Francisco Escobedo, is extremely pleased with the process, saying, “This program helps us reinforce the importance of recycling to our students, and our hope is that they take these practices and apply them at home. P&R Paper Supply has been a great partner in helping us save money that would have been spent on waste collection.”
Source: The Star News