Colo. Academy Students Help Reduce Landfill Waste

Dec. 14, 2009

Written by environmental specialist Paul Day | Read the story here

DENVER (CBS4) ― Serving up 1,000 meals per day once meant Colorado Academy produced more than a ton of landfill waste every week, until Alison Scalzo got involved.

“A lot of garbage should not come out of such a good community,” the sophomore said.

Scalzo encouraged her school to find a better way. So this fall, academy administrators turned to a company called Waste Farmers. With its guidance, the academy’s kitchen has reduced its waste output from 600 pounds per day to 10 pounds per week.

“Really surprised,” said Paul Worley, the chef who oversees the kitchen.

Worley explained almost everything now is recycled or composted. All the students get involved by sorting their discards at the end of the meal.

“I like to think that they’re pretty well-trained in what they’re doing,” said Scalzo as she watched third graders empty their trays.

Waste Farmers believes traditional waste should be treated as a valuable resource. Dark, rich compost soil is just by-product of the new program. Shrinking the amount of landfill waste is another big benefit.

“The methane gas that these landfills put off is worse for us than our car emissions,” Worley said.

Waste Farmers services do come at additional cost, but they’re offset by the reduced bills for trash hauling.

“From a budgetary standpoint, we’re not spending more this year than we were last year,” said Jesse Schumacher, Colorado Academy Director of Operations.

Only two things are still being thrown away in the kitchen — hair nets and latex gloves. Schumacher and Worley are studying ways to keep even them from being discarded.

The goal at the school is zero waste, but is it realistic? The answer is yes from the inspiration for program.

“It’s a challenge, I know, but the school can handle a challenge,” Scalzo said.