OSC Recycling & Sustainability Service Group

A reflective blog exploring recycling & sustainability initiatives at the Overseas School of Colombo

Archive for the ‘Compost & bio-waste’ Category

2014-15 Recycling & Sustainability In Review

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The following graph highlights amounts of paper, cardboard and plastic recycled by OSC's recycling & sustainability service project. These resources are collected and sorted by students during our Thursday afternoon service block. We then take them in the school pickup to our neighborhood scrap dealer where the paper and cardboard is sold and weighed. We also collect plastic, batteries, cartridges, but we do not get paid significantly for these. Glass and metals are also collected but our numbers are not significant. Prices for recycled paper and card board have roughly stayed the same during this period (1kg of card board sells for 10 LKR and 1 kg of mixed paper sells for 5 LKR). While we have been working to recycle more of our school's waste, we are also concerned about consumption patterns and are working to educate the community about reducing these levels.  Nevertheless, there is a general decline in paper being recycled (perhaps due to lower consumption patterns as the school moves to a electronic, 1:1 teaching & learning environment).

The following graph highlights amounts of paper, cardboard and plastic recycled by OSC’s recycling & sustainability service project. These resources are collected and sorted by students during our Thursday afternoon service block. We then take them in the school pickup to our neighborhood scrap dealer where the paper and cardboard is sold and weighed. We also collect plastic, batteries, cartridges, but we do not get paid significantly for these. Glass and metals are also collected but our numbers are not significant. Prices for recycled paper and card board have roughly stayed the same during this period (1kg of card board sells for 10 LKR and 1 kg of mixed paper sells for 5 LKR).
While we have been working to recycle more of our school’s waste, we are also concerned about consumption patterns and are working to educate the community about reducing these levels. Nevertheless, there is a general decline in paper being recycled (perhaps due to lower consumption patterns as the school moves to a electronic, 1:1 teaching & learning environment).

This has been a good year for OSC’s Recycling & Sustainability service group. In fact, this is a milestone year-the 10th that the group has been functioning! This school year was marked by strong student leadership and smaller but more efficient student numbers.  The group continues to occupy itself with managing recycled paper for the campus but we also delved into advocacy this year. Here is a quick review of activities and issues:

  • We worked with the canteen on trying to reduce the usage of disposable containers that are used for snack and lunches. We had initial success with this and consumption of disposable boxes decreased. However, after some time, it jumped back, highlighting several issues.
    • Firstly, what is driving the problem is the dearth of appropriate washable containers and cutlery in the canteen.
    • Secondly, there is wide spread apathy amongst students about using disposable materials. Our student leader Nisala has come up with further proposals to deal with this modeled on his observations and ideas from seeing the way that ASB handles solid waste (including food) in Mumbai.
  • In terms of amounts recycled our data shows that the total volume is going down. At the moment we don’t have exact numbers on how much paper was consumed but my guess is that it is less. This is likely because the school is moving to do much more of its communication electronically. This year, for example, student reports were all given out electronically. The business office has promised to share data on paper consumption that will either support of refute this hypothesis.
  • Students used Managebac to do their service reflections this year. Other than simply talking about what they were doing in the activity we emphasized reflecting on broader learning and trends in solid waste issues in Colombo and beyond.
  • In April several of us accompanied the PYP Grade 5 class on a visit to the large Colombo Municipal waste dump located near Dahampura. We were able to observe dozens of truck coming into to dump unsegregated solid waste. With the support of a scientist from IWMI the students collected water sample from nearby ponds and ran basic water quality tests on it. They have approached OSC’s administration to get a bio-digester (made by Arpico) to handle our food waste. The R&S service group has committed to supporting this with money raised from paper and cardboard sold over recent years.

We close the year with an acknowledgement that there is much, much more to be done. The solid waste crisis seems to get worse here (see news articles below) but we believe that our efforts are beginning to address issues both from a consumption and recycling point of view.

Collage of snapshots fromt he waste dump at XXXX. Taken on a field visit with MYP5 students & teachers to test water in adjacent ponds & streams.

Collage of snapshots from the waste dump at Dahampura (near to north-central Colombo). Taken on a field visit in April with MYP5 students & teachers to test water in adjacent ponds & streams. (Photos courtesy the R&S faculty facilitator)

 

IN THE SRI LANKAN NEWS LATELY

“Angry Sirisena blasts officials: Clean up cities, suburbs within a week or go.”  Sunday Times. 24 May 2015 Web.

Warakapitiya, Kasun. “Garbage rots on roadsides as councils fumble for lasting solutions.”  Sunday Times. 24 May 2015 Web.

Written by recycling1011

2015-06-12 at 12:09 PM

Food Resources Consumption at OSC

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Today there is widespread concern about global warming and the mutlitude of environmental problems. Traditionally, we are bound to blame industries, automobiles and developed countries. However, have we ever thought about ourselves? If think critically, the answer will be: No! So, for the sake of our environment, we have to start from somewhere. I decided to start this from our school’s cafeteria by calculating the consumption of major selling products. This is what I got:

Figure 1: Daily consumption Source: Rukshan (canteen in-charge)

Figure 1: Daily consumption Source: Rukshan (canteen in-charge)

Figure 2: Carbon footprint of different products Sources: Tetrapak, TLC, Huffington post, How bad are bananas: The Carbon footprint of everything

Figure 2: see below

Figure 2: Carbon footprint of different products Sources: Tetrapak, TLC, Huffington post, How bad are bananas: The Carbon footprint of everything

In the figure 2, we can see the carbon dioxide emitted during the production of these products. If we calculate the total carbon emitted during 180 days of school, it sum up to 40 tonnes! And this is just from few products of canteen. This doesn’t include greenhouse gases emitted during the disposal process of these products.  The biggest challenge that we are now facing is ignorance or lack of awareness of the fact that we are emitting much more carbon dioxide than we think. Also, we are not paying for all of the destruction caused to environment because of production and disposal of these products. Environmentalists call this as ‘externalized cost’. At present, we are only paying for the ‘production cost’ which only includes cost of raw materials, manufacturing, packaging and transportation. Since, we don’t have enough ‘time’ (or we don’t bother) to force government and corporates to include this externalized cost, we need to take steps to control this externalized cost. In context of our canteen consumption, I suggest following steps:

  • Reduce plastics: At OSC, we have water dispensers that give us fresh/cold/hot water at free of cost. Despite of this facility, some people buy the bottled water from canteen. Personally, I have no idea why people do this because when we can have free water than why we want to buy the water? Not only from economic point of view, but it is harmful for us from environmental point of view. We all know that plastic are very dangerous for our environment. Not only there production is harmful for nature, but also the disposal creates much bigger environmental problems. Thus, we need to stop this practice and should consider keeping a metal or hard plastic bottle with us and refilling it using the dispensers. It is much more efficient and environmental friendly (and also pocket friendly).
  • Reduce the chicken consumption: The biggest carbon dioxide emitter of all products is chicken which emits about 6.9 kg of carbon dioxide per kg during the production. According to canteen in-charge, we consume about 20 kg of chicken per day. Since, I am a vegetarian due to religious reasons, this is too much. But from environmental point of view, the chicken in school canteen alone adds about 25 tonnes of carbon dioxide to the environment. To reduce this, we can substitute the chicken products with vegetarian products such as cheese. However, I would suggest we should become more vegetarian because it is better for the environment (you can read more at: 10 ways vegetarianism can help save the planet)
  • Use more glass bottles: According to the graph, glass bottles produce more carbon dioxide than other packaging materials. However, these are only production figures. The biggest difference between glass and other materials is that they are effectively reused and recycled which is not possible for tetrapacks and plastic bottles. Hence, we should start using more glass container over plastic containers and tetrapacks.

All these changes might look small and we might think how individual contribution will affect the planet. But big changes came from small changes. If all pledge to contribute to planet, it will certainly help in solving the environmental problems. Being environment friendly is not for the planet, it is for our own benefit.

Article Copyright Shwetank Varma, 2013.

Written by recycling1011

2013-06-03 at 7:41 AM

Biogas…a Renewable Solution to OSC’s Cooking Needs

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Task sheet from OSC ES&S Energy Audit

Task sheet from OSC ES&S Energy Audit

The Grade 12 Environmental Systems & Societies class has been investigating energy use on our campus and options for using renewables. One of the most obvious solutions to our need to deal with food waste and replace gas cylinders with renewable biogas is now a viable option in Sri Lanka. Arpico is making units that do precisely this!  Seniors Jennifer Andersson (also a c0-student leader of R&S) and Giorgio Picone discovered this in their study of LPG consumption and potential solutions!

Their blog post details what opportunities there are.

Screen shot from Aripico Biogas blog spot.

Screen shot from Aripico Biogas blog spot.

Written by recycling1011

2013-03-10 at 4:57 AM