TUSD pushes to expand community recycling
Web Producer: Piper Stoeckel
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - A new waste audit program could keep Tucson Unified School District on track with recycling efforts and help reach target goals.
Nancy Petersen, Environmental Services Director, praised TUSD for past recycling accomplishments and presented opportunities to maintain and improve waste recycling at Tuesday’s school board meeting.
Experts say 50 percent of waste in schools can be recycled. TUSD currently recycles 30 percent. Petersen said the school district leads the City of Tucson in recycling efforts, but improvements can be made.
“You’ve got more ways that we can capture and recycle, so we’d like to work with you to get even more out of the classrooms and into the blue barrel,” Petersen said.
Board member Michael Hicks spoke about the successful partnership between TUSD and Environmental Services, and asked Petersen what opportunities are available to advance success.
Petersen said “waste audits” should be the first step toward any community improvement.
Environmental Services received a $200,000 grant for business waste audits. This funding pays professionals to walk through facilities and analyze what waste is thrown out and what waste can be captured, to eventually devise a recycling plan.
“Any school can contact us and we will come out, we can work with your facilities…go through the various cafeterias, the offices, the classrooms and see what we are missing,” Petersen said.
Members of the board and Environmental Services support the partnership to bring audit opportunities into effect. Both TUSD and ES said that positive effects would require support from teachers through out district.
During the last three years, six schools in TUSD accomplished an increase in recycling and decrease of waste; Petersen credits their success to the personal interest of the teachers. She said if the teachers don’t encourage and support recycling to children in the classroom, they can’t promote and provide new opportunities to children.
Tina Cook, TUSD energy projects manager, said not all teachers give consistent support.
“We need a key representative at every school that is enthusiastic about recycling,” Cook said.
Cook said with the size of TUSD every school needs someone eager to step in, and right now support fluctuates among schools.
The district took on recycling eight years ago and Environmental Services has provided promotional campaigns since. The district saves more than $77,000 annually by recycling.
Last year the Environmental Education Exchange Program reached more than 7,400 students in 46 schools.
Board member Judy Burns said Environmental Service’s elementary programs are important to spread recycling habits.
“We have had many discussions of how to reach people to recycle more…and the children do make a difference,” Burns said.
Burns said the board is grateful for the partnership between TUSD and Environmental Services, and supports all campaigns, including, “Give New life to Old Tread,” which is a campaign in October to recycle old running shoes.
“In cooperation with Nike…they say they will take any brand of shoe. Nine schools will participate in this but we hope the rest of the community gets involved,” Burns said.
Shoes collected during the two-week event will be recycled and ground into athletic surfaces. The school that collects the most shoes will win a reward.
Petersen said campaigns like this expose the community to the endless list of recyclable objects and encourage people to get involved.
Tuesday’s meeting confirmed the mutual support and agreement between TUSD and Environmental Services to accept new recycling opportunities, and put them into action to make a difference in the Tucson community.