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Summit Public Schools Recognized as City Recycler of the Month

The Alternative Press Staff

Friday, May 30, 2014 • 6:41am

SUMMIT, NJ - The Summit Public Schools have received the City of Summit Recycler of the Month award. 

In announcing the honor, the City of Summit Recycling Advisory Committee (RAC)  recognized the Board of Education, the District’s Central Office, and the individual schools for their efforts in recycling and environmental stewardship. Assistant Superintendent of Business, Louis Pepe, and Director of Buildings and Grounds, Angelo Palumbo and the schools’ maintenance staff have been particularly instrumental in implementing district-wide environmental initiatives.

In cooperation with the RAC, the schools have implemented a food composting program, collecting 1.5 tons of food waste and food wrapping materials each month from food prepared in the school cafeterias.  This program, which is the first of its kind in a public school system in New Jersey, is funded through a grant from the Summit Area Public Foundation. By implementing food waste collection, food waste is diverted from the waste stream and is used beneficially to make compost.  
 
Assistant Superintendent Pepe noted, "Food composting by the City of Summit Public Schools, in partnership with the Recycling Advisory Committee, has provided yet another opportunity to actively engage in creating environmental benefits that help create new materials, increase storm-water controls and allow for healthier soil and plants by fostering better nutrient cycling, fertility and aid in erosion control."  In addition to the environmental benefits of food composting, the schools have decreased the amount of food waste that must be transported to the transfer station, thus saving on labor costs.  

The schools have reduced waste by implementing a managed print services initiative to minimize the costs associated with printing and imaging.  As a result of the emphasis on “think before you print” and two-sided printing, the schools have significantly reduced paper use.   According to Assistant Superintendent Pepe, “This not only reduces the carbon footprint and the deforestation of trees - it saves money that can be redirected to the classroom.  Also, we have drastically reduced ink cartridges, which has saved thousands of dollars.”

Other district initiatives that make the schools and the community healthier and more energy efficient include using certified green cleaning products to reduce human and aquatic toxicity, and replacing the boilers in all nine schools (the last boiler will be replaced this summer) with high efficiency boilers, saving more than $2.5 million over the past five years.  Since June 2009, the schools have decreased energy consumption by 18%.

Individual schools have also taken the lead in recycling and environmental stewardship. Below are just a few of the initiatives taking place in Summit schools.

Schools recycle their cardboard food trays in the cafeteria, reducing the volume of waste and the number of trips needed to transport the waste to the transfer station, saving labor costs.  Instead the trays are recycled and picked up by the City’s recycling contractor. 

- Lincoln-Hubbard and Brayton schools recycle batteries and the students are encouraged to bring batteries from home to recycle. 

- Brayton School collects juice pouches in the cafeteria for recycling.

- The Franklin School Library and Information Center collects printer ink cartridges for recycling.

- Lincoln-Hubbard School encourages walking to school as part of its Earth Day celebrations.

- Lawton C. Johnson Summit Middle School has planted a rain garden in the front of the school to absorb water runoff.

Recycler of the Month Award recipients may be individuals, businesses or other organizations. The RAC -- a volunteer committee appointed by Common Council to assist the City in identifying and implementing programs to increase recycling in Summit --  considers several criteria in selecting Recycler of the Month recipients.  First, the recycling activity or project should be innovative, going beyond traditional recycling activities.  Next, the activity should be continuous and sustainable.  The RAC prefers ongoing efforts to one-time events.  Finally, the activity should be replicable by others. To learn more about the Recycling Advisory Committee, including the Recycler of the Month program, visit cityofsummit.org/rac, or like the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/summitrac.
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