Local News

'Every Tray Counts' as organization works to eliminate waste from school lunches

Posted May 24, 2018 4:21 p.m. EDT
Updated May 24, 2018 5:40 p.m. EDT

— An effort is underway to reduce the amount of food and foam going into landfills each year as a result of school lunches in North Carolina.

During lunchtime at Kingswood Elementary School in Cary, students eat off compostable trays.

The school is part of a program called Every Tray Counts, a statewide nonprofit that’s working to get polystyrene trays out of school cafeterias. The organization is also making sure food and paper waste stays out of the trash and goes into the compost bin.

So far this year, Kingswood alone has kept thousands of pounds of trash and food out of the landfill.

“We had the vision that would happen and to see it in reality is really a joy. Our school is very environmentally conscious and we think this is one way we can move forward our vision helping our world,” Principal Sherry Schliesser said.

Organizers said the compostable trays are a little more expensive than foam, but schools save on waste disposal costs.

“Over the very short term, there’s an increase and then you see savings. So, it’s a real financial benefit to any school or school district,” said Sue Scope with Every Tray Counts.

Every Tray Counts started in Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools and, over the past couple of years, the district said it has diverted more than 1 million pounds of compostable waste from landfills.

Every Tray Counts said that just a few changes can make a big difference and make school lunchrooms sustainable.