This article was originally published at the Press and Guide website and can be found by clicking here.
Many young people have heard the saying a thousand times, but the students of Bryant Middle and Long elementary schools put those words into action at the end of the academic year.
They are taking part in a pilot education project called Dearborn Education and Action on Recycling sponsored by the City of Dearborn, Dearborn Public Schools, Recycle Ann Arbor and The Ecology Center.
The partners want to promote recycling awareness throughout the city.
Proposed by Mayor John O’Reilly, Jr., the pilot program was funded by approval from the Dearborn City Council, which supported the comprehensive training/curriculum, recycling carts and recyclables collection at four schools.
The recycling program began at Bryant and Long in May and will expand to Salina Elementary and Salina Intermediate in the fall.
The city provides a convenient and comprehensive curbside recycling program for every house every other week. Household recycling is mandatory.
By educating young people and their families, the city hopes to increase overall recycling rates now and in the future.
The mayor and Dearborn Public Schools Supt. Glenn Maleyko met with the students participating in the recycling program at Bryant in May to get a firsthand look at the program.
“You can take the lead in our community by encouraging your families and friends to separate recyclables and take them out of the waste stream,” O’Reilly said. “That is good for our community and good for our environment.”
He explained to the students the city can save money by recycling because it reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills. That in turn lowers trash disposal costs.
The new school program has several goals and objectives, said Sean Adams, a supervisor in the city’s Property Maintenance and Development Services Department, which oversees trash, recycling and yard waste collection. Among the first is to encourage families to put only acceptable materials in their green recycling carts during their curbside collection.
“When recycling carts are filled with the wrong contents, they are considered contaminated and will not be accepted by the materials recovery facility,” Adams said.
“While Dearborn has a long and successful history of household recycling, our curbside collection contractor has reported that in some neighborhoods, as many as 25 to 40 percent of the green recycling carts are contaminated with improper materials,” Adams said.
The pilot program is aimed at lowering those numbers in the neighborhoods, he noted.
Additional goals and objectives of the program include:
• To divert at least one-third of the total waste stream from the schools through recycling
• To reduce the waste disposal costs at participating schools
• To engage students through interactive programs and recycling data collection.
• To educate the community to help keep families healthy and safe.
• To conduct comprehensive waste assessments at each of the pilot schools.
• To report on the successes, challenges and recommendations of the recycling pilot for each school.
Students in the pilot projects are collecting data on the amount of recyclable materials they are removing from the waste stream and learning that by recycling they can: curb greenhouse gas emissions, create cleaner air and water, reduce space necessary for landfills, allow manufacturers easy access to raw materials, save energy, create new jobs and conserve resources for future generations.
If the pilot program is successful, the city and the public schools hope to expand the initiative to include additional buildings and eventually the entire district.