The Vancouver School Board has gotten serious about reducing waste at its schools. They recently purchased three Earth Tubs, an automated, mid-scale composting system and have now set them up at three Vancouver schools: Windermere; David Thompson; and Grandview. The schools will process food waste from their cafeterias and some from the community. Windermere has secured two bike trailers and will be sending four students from their Leadership Training Program out during PE class to pick up compost from a few of their elementary feeder schools, along with a seniors home and one or two of the community centres in the neighbourhood. The goal is to reduce waste and greenhouse gas emissions, create a composting culture within the school district, as well as build a community asset.
The composting systems are integrated with existing gardening and food programs in the schools. The school board now has a sustainability coordinator who has also developed a Food Garden Process document that outlines the process of planning, designing, implementing, maintaining and sustaining school and daycare food gardens to ensure their success over the long term.
The schools are just getting the Earth Tubs up and running and will be figuring out what the actual capacity of the system is (the web site says up to 150 pounds of organic materials a day) and how much outside organic material they will need. I would love to see one of the Earth Tubs situated at Kits High in my neighbourhood. The Kits Community Centre across the street has an on-site catering business that produces a lot of food waste. And there are a number of small green grocers and restaurants in the area that could be contributing, both with food waste and perhaps financially to maintain the system. Seems like a good model for any neighbourhood or cluster of small businesses. In addition to keeping the food out of the waste stream, an Earth Tub would soon pay for itself by lowering garbage hauling costs.The units start at around $10,000, not a lot if a number of community partners are chipping in.