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By Jamie Stewart
The Shafter Press 

Cafeteria staff cleaning up

 

January 30, 2020 | View PDF

Jamie Stewart | The Shafter Press

The cafeteria staff have made a big impact on the environment with a big reduction in organic waste produced by the two schools.

The cafeteria staff at Redwood Elementary School and Richland Junior High were recognized recently for their efforts in helping clean the environment with a Special Recycle Award from the Shafter Chamber of Commerce.

Long gone are the days of seeing a trash can full of uneaten food, bound for the local landfill. With regulations and requirements being imposed by the state, schools are being challenged to find ways to clean up and reduce their waste, especially organics that make normally end up in a landfill.

Redwood and Richland Junior High have worked with Lynnda Martin of American Refuse to build a plan that has resulted in a substantial reduction in the organic waste generated.

Statewide, there is a big push with SB1383 for the reduction of greenhouse gases. Studies from Cal Recycle have shown that when items such as food waste are left in a landfill to rot on their own, they emit these gases into the atmosphere, causing harm to the environment.

The cafeteria staff, led by Angie Armstrong, work to make sure each child has a nutritious breakfast, lunch and snack. They serve about 1,800 students in a two-hour lunch period.

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The schools and American Refuse devised a plan to reduce the amount of organic waste that is produced. A waste audit was conducted to help them come up with a diversion plan.

Today, as a result of their plan, the amount of organics sent to the landfill is a great improvement.

There are two bins of material that are recycled and made into organics for natural farm fertilizer. Three bins are recycled materials destined for a material recovery facility, where they are made into something new again; just one bin is for trash headed for the landfill.

"Redwood Elementary and Richland Junior High Schools have made a very progressive step in the community. They are an outstanding example to schools in Kern County and the state by showing what can be achieved," Martin said.

 

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