Queensland Sustainable Schools

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Department of Education and Training

Waste

Overview

Australians are some of the greatest producers of waste in the world. Each Australian family produces enough rubbish to fill a three-bedroom house each year, which works out to be about 2.1 tonnes (2100 kg) of waste per person!

Apart from the obvious problem of where to put so much waste, rubbish is also a major environmental issue as it poses a threat to wildlife, consumes precious resources, produces toxins that contaminate land and waterways and generates greenhouse gases when decomposing in landfill. Schools generate waste in solid, liquid, or gas forms and even generate waste heat. Some of the waste does leave the school, but how can it be measured and minimized and where does it go?

Managing school waste begins with investigating the materials coming into the school, how the students and teachers use these materials, how much of the material after use can be reused or recycled and the way we undertake these activities either on site or through someone else.

In many schools, much of the waste goes to landfill, when it can be composted (organic waste such as fruit and vegetable scraps), recycled (paper, plastics and eWaste) or reused (repair appliances and donate unwanted furniture to other schools or community organisations), or not even brought to the school in the first place (litter-free lunches).

By identifying waste issues within the school, conducting waste audits and investigating waste minimisation strategies, students are able to develop and implement school waste management plans that gives them the opportunity to develop waste management skills in a real-life context; these skills can be transferred to home and the local community.

Students can track and investigate waste use at school by analysing school waste bills and learning how to conduct waste surveys. These tools are useful not only to keep track of waste, but also as a learning exercise to demonstrate to students how much waste is generated by the school in everyday activities and to explore the more sustainable alternatives based around the 6Rs principle ('Reduce-Reuse-Recycle-Respect-Replenish-Refuse'), rather than just throwing their rubbish 'in the bin'.

To begin reviewing waste management in your school, go to the tracking and investigating waste webpage for resources to perform school waste audits and identify areas within the school where waste can be minimized.

Australians are some of the greatest producers of waste in the world. Each Australian family produces enough rubbish to fill a three-bedroom house each year, which works out to be about 2.1 tonnes (2100 kg) of waste per person!

Apart from the obvious problem of where to put so much waste, rubbish is also a major environmental issue as it poses a threat to wildlife, consumes precious resources, produces toxins that contaminate land and waterways and generates greenhouse gases when decomposing in landfill. Schools generate waste in solid, liquid, or gas forms and even generate waste heat. Some of the waste does leave the school, but how can it be measured and minimized and where does it go?

Managing school waste begins with investigating the materials coming into the school, how the students and teachers use these materials, how much of the material after use can be reused or recycled and the way we undertake these activities either on site or through someone else.

In many schools, much of the waste goes to landfill, when it can be composted (organic waste such as fruit and vegetable scraps), recycled (paper, plastics and eWaste) or reused (repair appliances and donate unwanted furniture to other schools or community organisations), or not even brought to the school in the first place (litter-free lunches).

By identifying waste issues within the school, conducting waste audits and investigating waste minimisation strategies, students are able to develop and implement school waste management plans that gives them the opportunity to develop waste management skills in a real-life context; these skills can be transferred to home and the local community.

Students can track and investigate waste use at school by analysing school waste bills and learning how to conduct waste surveys. These tools are useful not only to keep track of waste, but also as a learning exercise to demonstrate to students how much waste is generated by the school in everyday activities and to explore the more sustainable alternatives based around the 6Rs principle ('Reduce-Reuse-Recycle-Respect-Replenish-Refuse'), rather than just throwing their rubbish 'in the bin'.

To begin reviewing waste management in your school, go to the tracking and investigating waste webpage for resources to perform school waste audits and identify areas within the school where waste can be minimized.