8 September 2021

Bega Valley students have recycling wrapped up

| Katrina Condie
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Students from Bemboka Public School

Bemboka Public School waste warriors used a council grant to buy a recycled plastic bench that kept 16,000 plastic bags away from landfill. Photo: Bega Valley Shire Council.

Young waste warriors from Eden to Cobargo are proving landfill is a load of rubbish as part of a new recycling education program.

Kids from schools across the Bega Valley Shire have been working to reduce school landfill waste through the ‘Let’s Get it Sorted’ program delivered by the Bournda Environmental Education Centre.

Bega Valley Shire Council’s waste strategy coordinator, Joley Vidau, says more than 10 local schools are making big changes to the way they deal with waste.

“The Let’s Get it Sorted program is designed to seed the amazing minds of future waste managers, and so far the results have been very inspiring,” she said.

“Starting last year, our first school visits revealed many schools were struggling to keep recyclable products and food waste out of landfill.

“Thanks to a fantastic program devised and delivered by the Bournda Environmental Education Centre, the follow-up visits revealed huge improvements in school waste management.”

The program focuses on ownership and leadership among the students, who have become waste warriors by creating action plans, including the creation of educational videos for other students.

“Schools decorated bins, trained their own bin monitors to help other students in sorting their waste, and raised money through the NSW Return and Earn program,” said Ms Vidau.

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Bournda Environmental Education Centre teacher Julie Donne said it is great to see children delivering the message of responsible waste management to others.

“We went into the schools not sure what we would find in their bins,” she said.

“Through return visits and waste audits, we saw recycling and food waste separation increase and the downsizing of waste to landfill.

“This means that between visits it was the kids and teachers keeping things on track, spreading the message of what to do with recyclables and organics, and inspiring others to do the same.

“And now with most children learning away from school [during COVID-19 lockdown] I would not be surprised to hear stories of students improving waste sorting at home, too.”

The Let’s Get it Sorted program has just entered its third year with an additional five schools now signed up.

“Funding for this successful program wraps up mid next year, but we are so pleased to know that kids from participating schools are taking the better waste management message from the classroom to their homes,” said Ms Vidau.

“These schools are emerging as leaders in waste management, and we are really grateful for their participation in the program.”

Council will seek support for further funding to enable the continuation of programs and to advance this new generation of waste warriors who lead the way in landfill diversion.

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