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EMS Cafeteria Waste Reduction Pilot Spring 2019

  • Minimize Recycling Contamination
  • Divert liquids, recyclables & compost from the waste stream  
  • Create a more organized, cleaner lunchroom experience
  • Increase awareness among the EMS community about the importance of everyday waste reduction   


  • New sorting stations for liquids, recycling, compost & trash.  Containers are stationary, lidded and color coded  to increase compliance and reduce contamination   
  • Updated bilingual signage in English & Spanish mounted directly to containers for easy reference   
  • Recycling guidelines simplified to include only most common items: drink containers, hard plastic containers, plastic utensils and aluminum foil   
  • Coming soon! Liner bags composed of 100% post-consumer resin from agricultural films (a closed loop system!) 
  • Educational programming in the classroom & training in cafeteria for students  
  • Staff and teacher education 
recycling trash receptacles with signage

New waste sorting stations are color coded, stationary and lidded to increase compliance and reduce contamination.


  • Recycling contamination significantly reduced
  • Approximately 23 lbs of compost & 45 lbs of liquids – a total of  70 lbs of waste removed from trash each day
  • Custodial staff report increased cafeteria cleanliness
  • Notable student awareness and curiosity about waste reduction process


picture of mixed recycling with items not suitable for recycling streams

Before the pilot, the recycling was contaminated with styrofoam trays, snack wrappers and food

The waste reduction program reduced contamination rates significantly 



 Single-use disposable items in packed lunches! While fast and convenient, these items generate a considerable amount of trash, which must be incinerated at a cost to taxpayers and our air and soil quality.  Plus, disposables are more expensive!  By packing a reusable, waste-free lunch, your family can save an estimated $2.32 per day, or a total of $417.60 per child annually. 

Image on suggestions to reduce waste in packed school lunches

 Food waste!  A considerable amount of uneaten food is tossed in the trash in the EMS cafeterias.  When food is wasted, all the natural resources, energy, and money involved in manufacturing, transporting and purchasing food is also wasted.  In addition to onsite composting of fresh fruit and vegetable scraps, PTA Green Schools is working on creative ways to curb food waste through food recovery.  But you can help by encouraging your student to bring home leftovers and packing lunches strategically with your child.  

image with informative ways to reduce food waste and US statistics on waste

EMS composting site

Question? Contact Julie Deschamps or Joan Tracey Seguin, Green Schools Committee or Aleksandra Moch, Environmental Analyst, Town of Greenwich