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How a SA primary school reduced waste by 87 per cent

South Australian start-up Bin Shift has granted its first-ever Award for Outstanding Impact to South Australia’s Elizabeth Grove Primary School after an audit found that the school has reduced its waste to landfill by 87 per cent.

The organisation works closely with schools across SA to provide them with waste separation systems and education workshops, allowing students take control in the war on waste. Elizabeth Grove, a Category 1 public school with a student population of 320, installed Bin Shift bins across the entire campus in February 2020 in an effort to help students understand waste sorting and separation.

Bin Shift founder Carole Gordon  explained that the system of bins gives students tangible results so that they can see the positive impacts made when they take action and sort their waste, and this in turn helps to alleviate some of the anxieties children have about the state of the world right now.

“Seeing the results that Elizabeth Grove has achieved in just seven months is exceptional, it’s been such a success that it has prompted us to create the BIN SHIFT Award for Outstanding Impact, which we intend to grant every year to a participating school, starting with Elizabeth Grove,” she added.

Waste audit

Bin Shift worked with KESAB Environmental Solutions to arrange a waste audit in August 2020 and compare the results to a previous waste audit completed at the school in 2018. The audit found that Elizabeth Grove is now only sending 22 litres of waste to landfill a day, 87 per cent less than the school’s previous average of 167 litres to landfill each day.

Wipe Out Waste Coordinator of KESAB Environmental Solutions, Jo Hendrikx, said that Elizabeth Grove demonstrated the second-lowest landfill contribution from a school that KESAB has seen in fifteen years.

“Elizabeth Grove Primary School has done some of the best sorting I have seen in the fifteen years I’ve been doing these,” Hendrikx said.

Since installing Bin Shift across the campus, the school has successfully diverted 100 per cent of compostable materials, including food waste, from ending up in landfill, subsequently reducing methane gas production and ensuring that valuable compost can be utilised by South Australian farmers to grow more produce.

Environmental Sustainability Specialist Teacher at Elizabeth Grove, Shannon Brookes, has been able to use the bins as hands-on tools for sustainability education in classrooms.

“We have always had a strong sustainability focus at Elizabeth Grove Primary School. Students and staff have been really engaged in the learning process with student-led initiatives and in-depth inquiry-based learning before and after the Bin Shift workshops.”

As a result, classrooms at all levels have worked waste separation into lessons, with the Year 6/7 students creating a business model for emptying all campus paper and 10c deposit bins as part of a business and economics class, complete with a roster and a payment system (in the form of canteen vouchers). The school will continue to utilise the Bin Shift bins in classrooms at every level in the years to come, and the Year 6/7 bin-sorting business will continue in 2021.

The set of customised BIN SHIFT bins cost Elizabeth Grove approximately $74.75 per classroom, and teachers looking to implement the system in their own classrooms.

Bin Shift is currently installed in over 30 schools in South Australia and interstate, as well as a number of homes and offices.