Resource Futures delivered this innovative Composting in Schools project on behalf of Devon County Council from September 2009 to March 2012. The programme, which supported the ‘Don’t let Devon go to waste’ campaign, provided schools with in-vessel composting equipment to compost cooked and raw food waste, and enabled teachers to use composting as an educational tool.
Devon County Council wanted to support their schools to send less food waste to landfill and to use conventional and in-vessel composting as a learning resource.
The project ran with learning communities comprising a secondary school and its feeder primary schools. Project schools received:
- A waste audit to assess the amounts of food waste being generated by the school and decide on the most appropriate composting equipment
- Free in-vessel composting systems suitable for composting all food waste, both raw and cooked.
- Free caddies for collecting food waste around the school site.
- An initial batch of wood chip to act as the carbon source in the composting process.
- Advice on locating and installing the equipment.
- Staff training covering all stages of the composting process, from collecting food waste to using the in-vessel equipment.
- Assemblies to introduce the new composting equipment to pupils and staff.
- Workshops to engage pupils with the composting process and open teachers' eyes to the potential for curriclum linkage.
- A celebration event for each learning community.
- Ongoing visits and support to ensure the composting equipment was running safely and staff and pupils were confident in using it.
- 68 Devon primary, secondary and special schools were provided with in-vessel composting equipment.
- 92% of paricipating schools used their equipment to compost all their fruit waste; 67% to compost all their cooked food waste.
- 53% of schools reported that they had reduced the number / frequency of residual collections as a result of participating in the project.
- An estimated 121 tonnes of food waste each year were diverted from landfill. The yearly saving in landfill tax associated with this mass of food waste was £7767 (July 2012).
- 9430 pupils took part in curriculum-linked composting workshops.
- 13,300 pupils (the approximate number on roll in all 68 schools) are now going through their school careers seeing composting at school as the norm.
Devon County Council has established itself as a leading authority on in-vessel composting in schools. The benefits to the schools include:
- a reduced amount of food waste to be collected for disposal, with associated cost savings.
- the provision of a unique educational resource to support classroom work, particularly science topics.
- free compost for use in the school grounds.
- support for other initiatives such as Healthy Schools, Eco-Schools, Food for Life.
A range of original resources developed by Resource Futures during and after the Composting in Schools project can be found here: http://zone.recycledevon.org/composting. A preview of The Compost Curriculum can be seen below.