Waste Warriors set the bar for environmental sustainability in schools

MONTAGU Bay Primary School ‘Waste Warriors’ group is the first school on the Eastern Shore to host a near zero-waste event.

The student-led group, initiated and mentored by Montagu Bay Primary School parent Peta-Jane Buchanan, worked hard to make its recent school fair a zero-waste event.

Ms Buchanan said she wanted to create a student group that would work towards improving recycling and other environmental sustainability issues in schools.

“I approached the school principal who agreed that a student-led Waste Warriors group would be a great educational and fun school group which could generate positive change in the school,” she said.

“The Waste Warriors group is made up from two students from each class and we meet fortnightly to discuss ways to reduce waste and improve environmental sustainability in our school.”

The Festival Under the Bridge was the first project taken on by the Waste Warriors group.

“The goal was to have a festival which worked towards having zero waste,” Ms Buchanan said.

“We organised for washable plates to be used for food, compostable packaging and created two waste stations where Waste Warriors would sort out waste into different bins.

“Each waste station separated waste into compost, glass recycling, can recycling, paper and cardboard recycling, soft plastics and general waste (landfill).”

Ms Buchanan said the event had only produced two landfill bags and the majority of waste generated was compostable.

The compostable waste from the festival was taken away by Hobart commercial composting company Abel Pakk.

Once composted, Abel Pakk will return the compost to the school where the Waste Warriors will distribute it around the school garden beds.

The zero-waste initiative was largely funded by community and local government grants.

The school drafted grant proposals and were successful in receiving funding from both Clarence City Council and Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman.

Most of the funding for the event was invested in compostable packaging.

Ms Buchanan said the next Waste Warriors projects would focus on the school and the broader Eastern Shore community.

“Because we are a school right on the Derwent River, we have the ability to ensure our foreshore remains free of waste,” she said.

“The Waste Warriors look towards making positive changes in both the school and the local community.”

Montagu Bay Primary School is the first school to action initiatives towards zero waste in schools and the local community.

Ms Buchanan said she hoped environmental sustainability and zero waste became engrained in school culture.

“It’s important that Montagu Bay Primary School has taken the first steps, and I hope it is encouraging other schools in the area to take similar action,” she said.

“We are happy to support any other schools, parents or community members who want to make positive changes in schools and communities.”

Caption: Montagu Bay Primary School students Grace Buchanan, left, and Ebony Buchanan in front of the compost collected from Festival Under the Bridge.