Editorial: Recycling programs can help cut school costs
School districts looking to trim spending might find ways to save in the least likely places — like inside their dumpsters.
Since the Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority in Utica, N.Y., began its “Go Green” initiative nearly a year ago, 50 of 150 schools in the two-county region have launched recycling programs in their districts.
That’s a good start, but more schools need to get on board.
Less trash in dumpsters can mean more money in district coffers. And that translates into taxpayer savings. In Oriskany, for instance, a new trash hauling contract will cost the district $7,840 — down $2,660 from the previous $10,500 contract.
The reason? Haulers are carting away less trash and more recyclables. Schools pay for trash removal. Recyclables are taken away free of charge.
That adds up. Lauren Barone, school recycling coordinator for the waste authority, said Elliott R. Hughes Elementary School in New Hartford has reduced the school’s trash by half. Principal Mark Dunn anticipates savings from that, and says the school should have definite numbers on that later this month. Barone said other schools are expected to see similar savings as their recycling programs grow.
Recycling became state law more than a decade ago, but has been slow to catch on. Just this week, Little Falls Mayor Robert Peters said officials in that Herkimer County city were considering requiring all residents to use clear plastic bags for both their trash and recyclables.
The city pays Spohn Disposal Service Inc. for waste pickup and the waste authority for disposal. But without clear bags, the city cannot determine whether people are recycling.
Schools have been particularly slow to embrace recycling programs, although efforts have improved since Barone was hired by the authority a year ago to push the effort. She goes into schools and provides information on what can be recycled, how to begin a program and how to incorporate that program into everyday work and curriculum. Included in the package of resources are a manual for teachers and other materials — all provided at no cost. Barone also makes herself available to do school assemblies, if requested.
Of course, recycling saves more than money. Protecting the environment is certainly a worthy goal, too, and empowering children now can bode well for their future. It’s something all schools should be doing as part of their mission to educate the next generation.