Back to school for trash
With September rapidly approaching, the city of Port Coquitlam is looking at ways to encourage more schools to participate in the municipality’s green waste collection program.
Currently, half of PoCo’s public schools have their compost and kitchen scraps collected by the city, which has led to an 80% decrease in garbage going to the landfill from those facilities, according to a city staff report.
That success, said John McLean, PoCo’s acting director of engineering, has staff encouraging more schools to participate in the program.
“Ten schools have signed up and we are looking to push it to the rest of the schools in the fall,” he said. “The school needs to come forward with their proposal and they need to set things up on their end.”
Logistical factors — including how garbage trucks will access the property and where bins will be placed — must be dealt with before a school can participate. But McLean said he is confident all PoCo schools can be accommodated.
The expansion of the program began after results from a pilot study involving Maple Creek and Kwayhquitlum middle schools found significant increases in waste diversion. With more schools participating, the municipality will be closer to achieving its goal of an 80% city-wide diversion rate by 2020.
So far, Maple Creek, Kwayhquitlum and Pitt River middle schools have participated, along with Castle Park, Cedar Drive, Central, Hazel Trembath, James Park and Kilmer elementary schools. Terry Fox and Riverside secondary schools also have green waste collection systems in place.
The school green waste program is similar to the multi-family residential collection effort. McLean said a representative or point person is generally chosen by the school to administrate the program and liaise with the city. Many of the schools incorporate the program into their curriculum, getting the students involved while teaching them the importance of composting and waste diversion.
“The sooner the children can understand the benefits, the more likely they will carry on in their adult life,” he said. “The children take the information they gain home and the large majority will follow through and remind their parents as well.”
The education component, McLean said, will help the city with future waste collection efforts and its diversion targets.
As well, expanding the program comes at minimal cost to the city, said PoCo Coun. Sherry Carroll, chair of the city’s environmental enhancement committee. Green waste bins are paid for by School District 43 and the city’s collection trucks simply have to add a stop on their designated routes.
She also said the idea of bringing the green waste collection program to schools has been driven by the students.
“What was really neat to see is that it was the kids that came to us,” Carroll said. “We were able to try it out.”