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Cafeteria Composting


In 2013, CHCCS piloted cafeteria composting at 3 elementary and 1 middle school.  After working out the logistics and training for the program, it was rolled out to all Elementary and Middle Schools at the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year.
 
The design, implementation and ongoing success of the program was a community effort that included: CHCCS leadership, Chartwells Food Service, Every Tray Counts, Brook Contractors, CHCCS Custodial Staff, teachers and TAs, and over 250 parent volunteers.

Compostable trays have replaced Styrofoam trays and the program cost is offset by dumpster reductions prior to and during implementation of composting.  We have reduced our daily number of trash bags from the cafeteria from 155 to 18, in our elementary and middle schools (total).  Finished compost is sent to schools in the spring to use in their spring gardens, restarting the natural cycle of growing from the land and returning to the land. 
 
The program attempts to be holistic in educating students on composting, natural cycles, environmentally conscious businesses and even art—the signs were designed and drawn by an East Chapel Hill High School Student. 
 
As part of our waste reduction program, we are transitioning some schools back to reusable trays.  This is done in schools with working dish machines, available staff time.  A lifecycle analysis was done and reflects greater environmental (and educational) impacts to use reusable trays over compostables.