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D. 202 high schools lead the way in environmental initiatives

Plainfield East High School and Plainfield High School-Central Campus students and staff recycled 3,550 pounds of food waste from January to April as part of a District 202 pilot composting program.

The goal is to expand the program to Plainfield South and Plainfield North high schools this fall, said Richard Engstrom, Assistant Superintendent for Business and Operations.

District 202 also plans to remove straws and stop using Styrofoam in its buildings starting in August to further help the environment, Engstrom said.

“Protecting the environment in our schools sets the example for our students to use in everyday life,” he said.

Will County offered the food waste composting pilot to PHSCC and PEHS through its Resource Recovery and Energy Division in the Land Use Department.

Joan O’Keefe, Environmental Educator with the Resource Recovery and Energy Division, lead the work.

“We have a national food waste problem,” O’Keefe said. “Currently all the garbage or waste that goes into our landfills is made up of 20 percent to 30 percent wasted food. This wasted food comes from homes, school lunches and restaurants.”

Food waste from the PEHS and PHSCC high school kitchens was tossed into blue bins, O’Keefe said. Students also separated their food waste from their trash during lunch hours.

Organix Recycling picked up the food waste weekly to turn it into compost.

Environmental clubs and National Honor Society students at both schools created signs and videos to encourage students to put their food waste into the correct bins.