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Urging better recycling - Pol says schools are lacking

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Schools can do a better job of going green, according to a local politician.

City Councilmember Bill de Blasio and supporters rallied outside of City Hall to demand that the city Department of Education (DOE) implement a universal recycling program for all public schools.

Although recycling is currently mandated in all city schools, the problem is that each school can create its own recycling system and that means recycling has often taken a backseat, de Blasio said.

The councilman says the city’s schools produce 50,000 tons of garbage each year but only 10 percent of that is recycled.

“If we were being graded on recycling in schools, we would all be sent to the back of the class,” de Blasio said. “If New York City is going to be a leader on environmental issues, we cannot ignore the massive amount of waste not being recycled in our schools.”

The DOE says it is revamping recycling procedures.

“You can probably imagine the challenges we face in successfully implementing a recycling program across a system with more than 1,400 schools in over 1,100 buildings,” explained Jeffrey Shear, chief of staff for the DOE’s Finance and Administration Division.

“Chancellor’s Regulation A-850 outlines the department’s recycling policy and procedures and it is currently being updated,” he continued. “Improvements include: designating the executive directors – or their designees – at our Integrated Service Centers as district recycling coordinators, appointing a lead recycling coordinator at buildings with multiple schools, and giving the recycling coordinator a related function as ombudsman for school staff or students who have concerns about their particular school’s recycling efforts.”

This is not the first time de Blasio has asked the city to go green.

Last year, he introduced legislation to ban the use of Styrofoam in restaurants and public schools, which go through 850,000 Styrofoam breakfast and lunch trays a day. Each year, the DOE uses more than 153 million trays.

The trays are not biodegradable so they end up sitting in landfills, adding to the overwhelming mounds of garbage.

There are also concerns about the safety of Styrofoam lunch trays because of the belief that chemicals from the Styrofoam may infect the food.

Some schools have taken the challenge to “go green” to heart.

This past March, P.S. 154 in Windsor Terrace became the first New York City public school to stop using Styrofoam lunch trays and start using sugar cane trays instead.

The sugar cane trays are easier on the environment, as they’re biodegradable.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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