LAKE PLACID - High school students here want the Lake Placid Central School District Board of Education to consider switching to a no-sort recycling program they say will reduce the district's carbon footprint and cut down on waste removal costs.
At last November's Youth Climate Summit, held at the Wild Center in Tupper Lake, students from the Lake Placid Middle-High School Environmental Club were asked to create a "climate action plan" for their school district, and finding a better way to recycle was at the top of their list. The club's advisor, Tammy Morgan, said the students spent the rest of the 2011-12 school year researching how the district currently recycles.
Morgan said the Environmental Club had been trying to encourage recycling by placing boxes for paper waste in classrooms throughout the middle-high school, but in many cases paper was being thrown away with the trash due to custodial time constraints.
Members of the Lake Placid Middle-High Schools’s Environmental Club. from left: Tammy Morgan, the club’s adviser, Kate Gallagher, Hanna Potter, Michael Buckley and Cody Barry.
Morgan said other items, like plastics and metals, weren't being recycled.
At the climate summit, students met with representatives from Casella Waste Systems and discussed the company's Zero-Sort Recycling program. Morgan said the students discovered that the program could address the district's recycling issues and save money.
"We looked at the numbers they were giving us, and we looked at other example schools that had gone to the Casella Zero-Sort, and we found out that they were all saving money," she said.
Hanna Potter, a junior, said student research estimated that custodians spend about 320 hours per school year picking up recycling from classrooms and transporting it to the North Elba Transfer Station. At an average wage of about $21 per hour, Potter said the district spends some $6,700 annually in manpower costs alone.
The students said about 200 pounds of recycling was collected per week during the school year, resulting in a total of 7,000 pounds. That, Potter said, ends up costing about $500 in tipping fees for the middle-high school alone.
With the no-sort program, there's one container that accepts all recyclable items, including metals, plastics, cardboard and paper. Tenth-grader Cody Barry said Casella has one container that accepts things like soda bottles and cans, milk jugs, PVC, yogurt containers, egg cartons and other layered plastics.
Barry noted that North Elba only accepts two of the seven types of recyclable plastics. Casella accepts all of them, he said.
Casella's Zero-Sort program would cost the district about $2,646 per year, according to Morgan.
"When we look at the numbers, to us, it's kind of a no-brainer, and we hope you'll see the same thing," Morgan told the school board.
The district's head custodian, Al Bonaduce, endorsed the plan.
"One of the hopes we be that we could eliminate some trips (to the transfer station)," he said.
Bonaduce said he thinks the no-sort program would free up time for custodians to do other work around the district. He congratulated the students for their hard work on researching the costs and benefits.
"You can take all of these numbers to the bank," Bonaduce said.
School board President Mary Dietrich said the board will look at the proposal "very closely."