Styrofoam Trays Disappear from School Cafeterias
The Portland Public Schools will no longer use Styrofoam trays in its cafeterias beginning this fall, as part of the district’s ongoing efforts to reduce cafeteria trash.
The district will replace Styrofoam trays with paper board trays at an additional cost of $30,000 annually. This increase is offset by the savings anticipated from the Waste Reduction Group’s recycling and composting programs. Eventually, reusable plastic trays will be used once the new central kitchen is finished and is operating a tray washing facility.
During the past year, nearly all of Portland’s mainland schools have implemented composting, trash separation and recycling of bottles and other refuse from the cafeteria. Those changes have reduced cafeteria trash by 50 to 80 percent, saving the district money on trash hauling and teaching students about sustainability. Eventually, the Portland Public Schools is expected to realize $50,000 cost savings annually on trash hauling.
Students, parents and other community members were the driving force behind launching the cafeteria recycling and composting program. City and school staff worked together on its implementation. Student “Green Teams” at several schools helped publicize the effort and conducted training for their classmates about how to separate their lunch trash in the multiple containers in the cafeteria. Read more.