Foam tray recycling program reduces need for collection

COVINGTON -- The Newton County School System is starting to see the financial benefits of its foam tray recycling that started last school year.

"Due to the success of our partnering with B&W Waste to recycle foam lunch trays, we can now eliminate the number of weekly pickups at our elementary schools," said Dr. Dennis Carpenter, deputy superintendent for operations at NCSS, in a recent presentation to the school board.

At the beginning of the school year, NCSS contracted with B&W Waste Inc. of Madison for $35,900 for the compression and packaging of polystyrene foam products for NCSS. The company then returns the foam parts to the manufacturer for reuse.

Originally, seven NCSS elementary schools had waste collection three times per week, and six elementary schools had pickups five times per week.

Since implementing the program, six of the seven schools with three pickups per week have been changed to two pickups per week. Five schools have been changed from five to three collections per week. Another school was reduced to one Dumpster instead of a reduced collection schedule.

Carpenter said these eliminations will result in a savings of about $33,660 per year on waste collection contracts because NCSS is charged per pickup, per can.

It also implements more environmentally friendly practices, he said.

"This partnership not only helps with the reduction of waste taken to our landfills," Carpenter said. "In addition, fuel and vehicle emissions are being reduced from days the waste trucks are not in use."

Carpenter said NCSS is not using a foam tray recycling program at its middle and high schools but hopes to in the future.

"The equipment that is in use has reached the maximum volume or trays that can be recycled," he said. "While we do not have a specific timeline, we do have a goal in mind to add our remaining schools."

Newton County public schools also recycle cardboard at every school and facility. Those bins are picked up once per week.