As announced at the first HS assembly of the year, ISB is expecting a new waste management system with brand new trash cans. Recently, most students have become aware that ISB does not actually separate and recycle the trash; instead, all of the waste ends up at the same landfill. After hearing about this, Hyoree K. (11), Alex Z. (11), Hannah G. (11), and Casper S. (12), all members of sustainability club Net Impact, initiated a waste management project. Net Impact’s goal is to make ISB “a living laboratory for positive change.” The members are given the opportunity to initiate improvements that will impact the ISB community. To explain foundations and execution of this project, Hannah G. (11) kindly agreed to be interviewed by The Break.
Why did you decide to take on this project?
I initiated this project because I have disliked the trash cans at ISB for some time. The labels are vague and confusing. For one, I don’t think plastic bottles and paper should go to the same recycling plant because they are different kinds of recyclable waste. If you can’t recycle plastic and paper together then why would they be in the same trash? Then, at our first Net Impact meeting of this school year, Mr. Yamatin mentioned that ISB doesn’t recycle. If both recyclable materials and waste go to the same dump site, what’s the point of having two trash cans? Apparently, it doesn’t matter if the trash is divided or not, because it’s all going to have the same outcome.
How do you think this project will benefit the students?
Our generation, especially, has learned about global warming and the importance of recycling since we were young. By now, the concept of recycling has already been hard-wired into our brains. I would like to believe that, as a generation, we avoid hurting the earth when we can and if we can. However, with the current—or I can almost say previous—waste management system, the ISB community does not have the opportunity to recycle waste. We do recycle paper, but beyond that, the plastic, aluminium, and organic syncarp board, are just put together and taken to the incinerator at land fills. So what our project is doing is giving everybody at ISB the tools and opportunity to recycle. We’re giving ISB a chance to decrease our carbon footprint and make a real impact.
Walk us through the process of developing this project.
One of the first and most difficult stages of this project was finding a vendor who would take the trash ISB generates and recycle some of it. However, thanks to the administration, who were all on board with this project, we were able to sign a contract with the US embassy’s recycling vendor. Their support allowed us to focus on some other components of our project. What we then needed was a new labeling scheme for the trash cans. We envisioned a logical approach for these designs where organics, for example, would be the color green while cardboard would be brown. Next, we mapped out where the trash cans would be, especially because there’s not just going to be two trash cans anymore. We will instead have several trash cans in each corridor. Another obstacle was considering how to get rid of trash cans in classrooms. To make up for this, we decided to place at least one trash can in every hallway so that trash made inside the classrooms can still be easily thrown out.
The second part of our project was making a system for collecting the trash. Currently, workers take the trash from both trash cans, put them into one bag, and then take them to the dump site. This system had to be changed, so we had a meeting with Mr. Munro and Sodexo’s facility officers. Our idea for the new system is to use colored plastic bags to keep the trash divided. This way, we can still place the bags into the big dustbins outside.
What is the “net impact” of your project?
In numbers, last year’s waste audit showed that ISB produced 119,723 kilograms of waste. 29% of this waste could be recycled but is not (not counting paper waste). 29% is 34,719.67 kilograms of waste. Now, all of this waste will no longer end up in landfills and will instead be recycled. This means 34,719.67 kilograms of stuff might not be made in the factories because they have a recycled version, or there won’t be as much waste in the landfills, or there won’t be as many pollutants in our land and oceans. So that’s our net impact. We’re decreasing our waste by 34,719.67 kilograms.
What is the significance of this project?
The greatest significance of this project is that it is going to be a change in ISB you can’t overlook. The new waste management system will allow everyone in ISB to make a difference. Through this project, we are working together to decrease our carbon footprint, and I really can’t be grateful enough to be part of this initiative.
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