A Fulwood school is fighting the war against plastic thanks to pupil power.Advertisement
Pupils at Archbishop Temple School decided they wanted to make a positive change to reduce the amount of single-use plastic being used after watching a documentary on the subject.
As a result, all of the packaging provided by the school’s canteen is now compostable and biodegradable.
Mrs Gilmour, Head of Humanities, said: “Our pupils drove the change. We watched the BBC documentary, Drowning in Plastic, and pupils were astonished at the amount of waste that goes to landfill.
“They all wanted to do something to make a positive change. So we set up a focus group, comprising of pupils, to look at the ways in which we could reduce plastic waste in school.”
The pupils’ aim was for the school to become single-use plastic free by the end of the academic year. The first step was for the group to identify where plastic was being used and what could be done to change it.
Daniel in year 8 discovered that new exercise books arrived wrapped in plastic, so he wrote to the stationery supply company with suggestions of alternatives.
Other pupils found that single-use plastic was being used in the canteen. They conducted a survey to find out what was being used and asked their peers what could be used instead.
Catering Manager Mrs Higson spoke to Mrs Gilmour and together they formulated a plan to make the school single-use plastic free by the end of the summer term 2020.
The Catering Department spent time with suppliers looking at the different compostable, biodegradable multi-use plastics available in order to find the right fit for school.
Mrs Higson said: “We wanted to find packaging that was not only visually appealing but cost effective, so that prices didn’t increase.
“We started off by changing our cutlery to wooden and our straws to paper. We then had to find a disposable hot food container that was both practical and affordable.
“Everything that we can change, we have and we have done this within two school terms. We have even found disposable Christmas packaging that is compostable.
“All packaging waste from the kitchen is sorted and recycled – plastics, wood, glass, card and paper. Compostable plastic cups are used for functions and pupils bring in their water bottles to refill; we no longer have single-use plastic cups by the water fountain.
“We have very little food waste, however we have also been looking at how the little we do have can be composted. The machine that does this safely and effectively is very expensive but this is something we are working on for the future.”
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Mrs Gilmour said: “We haven’t stopped there. We introduced Tupperware Tuesday, so all food sold at the pod is served in containers that pupils bring in from home. This is something we really encourage pupils to do.
“By working together pupils and staff have brought about a positive, environmentally friendly change to the school environment.”
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What do you think of the school’s efforts? Let us know in the comments.