Hats Off to CBE Schools for Cutting Waste by the Ton

Oct. 16, 2018

​It’s been about 10 years since the CBE began implementing waste reduction and recycling measures across the system, and by all accounts we’ve really taken out the trash.

“It started with a commitment to achieve the mandate by the City of Calgary to reduce the amount of material going into landfills by 80% by 2020,” explains Deborah Wehnes, Waste and Recycling Coordinator. “We are now at a place where most schools have achieved that target and several are exceeding those reductions.”

It was no small task to outfit more than 200 schools with all the necessary equipment – sorting stations for recyclables, refundable beverage containers, compost and garbage are a common site in school hallways. There were significant start up costs and the need to create a support framework for schools. But as Deborah notes, “It’s more economical to recycle than to send it to the landfill.”

This kind of activity supports CBE’s Sustainability Framework, which is aligned with the Results policies and the CBE Three-Year Education Plan.

As the waste reduction program grew, the sustainability team began sending detailed updates to schools.  The monthly reports show a school’s waste service levels expressed in the number of cubic yards, per student, per month.

Targets for monthly waste going to landfills are as follows:

  • Elementary schools:  0.03 yds.3/student/month
  • Middle/Junior Highs:  0.06 yds.3/student/month
  • Senior Highs:  0.07 yds.3/students/month

Every year, there is a national Waste Reduction Week, with each of the seven days focusing on specific themes of activities that can help reduce waste output at a local level. (This year’s Waste Reduction Week is Oct. 15-21.) 

In honour of the week and all that it stands for, the sustainability team wishes to recognize all of our schools. These students, teachers and staff, in collaboration with their Facility Operators, have not only reduced their waste to meet set goals, but several have exceeded their goals on a consistent basis. Congratulations to all of our “trash busting” schools.

CBE Waste Reduction by the Numbers

  • 90% of CBE schools participate in a centralized recycling program.

  • More than 34,000 kg of recyclables are collected every month.

  • 92% of schools participate in a food and yard waste composting program.

An example of the waste reduction updates sent to schools each month