Mrs. Green’s Grade 2/3 class at Anne Hathaway Public school and the school’s Earth Club would like to ask the question to the City of Stratford and Blue Water Recycling company: Why are you not recycling juice boxes and Tetra Paks?
Our class worked together to do a school waste audit last Fall as part of an education contest with the Waste Free Lunch Program (www.wastefreelunch.com/home). We even made the local papers with our findings. We were surprised to discover that over one-third of our garbage thrown out to the dump was juice boxes and another one-third was compostable materials.
The company collecting materials from our school did not accept juice boxes, but our class and Earth Club decided that our school needed to make an effort to start collecting and recycling juice boxes and Tetra Paks. We rallied for students to bring waste-free lunches during the rest of the school year. Our teacher and other volunteers were going to drop the boxes off at the recycle centre at the Stratford garbage facility because they were recycling these materials from city homes and businesses.
Apparently, the juice boxes were being recycled until April 30. Or were they? There seems to be some discussion lately in the papers about whether or not they were being shipped to Mississauga to a recycling plant. We made a hall display to inform the school of our findings using a weeks’ worth of juice boxes. It created a giant juice box that was very impressive. We wanted to share that over 700 juice boxes, per week, were being thrown in the trash rather than recycled. In one school year of 40 weeks, that would be 27,000 juice boxes!
Our class made posters to encourage the collection of the juice boxes to be recycled and we took turns daily collecting them from the classes. Then we discussed the amount of juice boxes that might be in our school board of 60 schools if we used the ratio of two juice boxes per student per week, which equals 1.8 million, approximately, from all the schools. That is just the public board schools. The amount seemed devastating for our future environment.
Unfortunately, just as our school was working as a team (we even had special juice box collection points in the school and fancy collecting containers), we discovered that juice boxes were no longer going to be collected as of April 30. How disappointing for all our efforts and for the environment’s sake.
We learned from researching that it takes 300 years for a multi-layered juice box to decompose or just break down into smaller bits. Every juice box is made up of five to seven layers of paper, wax and aluminum which is a process called polycoating. Did you know there are creative companies re-using these materials to make new objects such as bags, and clothing items? Some areas and provinces give returns on collections of juice boxes and Tetra Paks; in other cities they recycle juice boxes, so why can’t we? Somewhere nearby there has to be a hydrapulper.
Did you know that juice boxes can be recycled into tissue and other papers? If we don’t recycle, we will all be living in a dump. We are not kidding, even though we are kids. Did any of you before reading this know how many juice boxes went to the garbage? Hopefully you do now and we all can help the City of Stratford find a place to send the juice boxes or not buy them at all and cause manufacturers to change their ways.
It all comes down to money anyways. I know in our class, we have discussed not spending our dollars on juice boxes if they are just going to the dump anyway. Let’s hope the city and the company secure a market that fits the budget and throws the juice boxes in the blue boxes.
Tarra Green and 18 concerned juice box recyclers, Anne Hathaway Public school