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Food Waste Recycling


CMS and Mecklenburg Schools Set to
Recycle Tons of Food Waste
The Charlotte Mecklenburg School District is an enthusiastic recycler. Most schools collect at least cardboard and paper, and many schools participate to an even higher degree by also collecting metal cans, plastics, and milk/juice cartons from classrooms, administrative offices, cafeterias and even sports fields. 

In 2012, Allenbrook and Tuckaseegee Elementary Schools took recycling one revolutionary step further by participating in a pilot program to collect and recycle food waste from their cafeterias.  Recently, Park Road Montessori and the Metro School implemented the program at their locations, and several others will start with the next school year.  CMS and Mecklenburg County Solid Waste expect to have 22 schools involved in the program by 2015.    

The pilot program revealed that an elementary school-aged child contributes about a pound of food to the waste stream each week. Just one school with 300 students will send over five tons of food waste to the landfill each year, while a larger school with 900 students will landfill over 16 tons.

Food waste is collected on a weekly basis and used as a feedstock for compost. In addition to reducing the volume of trash going to the County’s landfill, it’s anticipated that a wide scale CMS implementation will also reduce the District’s waste hauling costs.     

CMS was recently honored by the Carolina Recycling Association with a 2014 Spotlight Award for the program. 

For more information on the food waste collection and recycling program underway at CMS, please call the Mecklenburg County school recycling team at 704.336.3777.

Food Waste Collection.JPG
Food waste collection area at the Metro School.  Food is scraped into specialized containers with green compostable liners.
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Food waste collection area at Allenbrook Elementary School. Students empty liquids, recyclables, trash and food waste into dedicated containers.
Composting Windrows.jpg
Food waste is one of many materials used in a windrow composting process.

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