Gallegos Sanitation and the Poudre School District in Fort Collins are collaborating on a pilot program for food waste recycling. Currently, 10 schools are participating in the effort to produce a waste stream that is comprised solely of food and napkins and collected in 65-gallon carts. Previously the school food waste was composted at A1 Organics but soon it will be recycled at the Heartland Biogas Project, when it is fully operational in the next couple of weeks.
The Gallegos Sustainable Innovations Educational Program — in collaboration with each school’s principal, custodial staff, paraprofessional staff, teachers, and, most importantly, the students — is proving to be successful. There have been a number of challenges, however, such as:
- keeping carts sanitary and safe to be brought back inside the school lunchroom,
- the logistics of outdoor placement of the carts during winter weather
- cleaning carts and removing frozen food during cold weather, and
- maintaining an on-going team of supervisors who are responsible for sorting contaminates during lunch time.
Although, with a little attention, most of these challenges have been corrected.
The greatest challenge has been the capital expenditure and the financial burden of transportation costs (currently there is no local recycler within a 20-mile radius), the additional handling of carts to keep them clean and safe, and the high cost of recycling foodwaste compared to the landfill tipping option.
Becca Walkinshaw, Gallegos Sanitation