Recycling lunch trays made of plastic foam at schools can not only decrease a lot of trash collection expenses, but can also train young minds to become environment friendly. Helped by P&R Paper Supply, Riverside Unified School District is doing just this by participating in the recycling program called “Going the Extra Mile”, which will include lunch tray recycling.

A Recycling Program for Plastic Lunch Tray Recycling

“Going the Extra Mile” is a foam recycling program that has benefitted Riverside Unified School District along with a few others. In this program, students are required to stack their used trays back into the packing cases after they have disposed off the leftover food. The trays are then stored to be picked up. P&R Hybrid trucks pick up these trays once every week and deliver them to Dart Container Corp. where the trays are reprocessed. After being reprocessed, the trays are sent to a local company in Chino, where they get transformed into eco friendly promotional items like photo frames or crown molding.

Currently, 28 elementary schools in the Riverside District are participating in the program. This has resulted in 33,000 foam trays to be recycled every week, which results in 1,320,000 foam trays to be recycled every year. Recycling these food trays has effectively reduced the district's waste by half, resulting in fewer trash pickups every week. The program has not only saved Riverside Unified School District a lot of money that would otherwise be spent on trash collection, but has also provided opportunity for the students to be readily involved in the recycling process. This has taught the students how important it is to reduce landfill wastes, and hopefully they would apply this knowledge in their everyday life too.

P&R Paper Supply has provided a cost-effective, yet easy way to recycle foam trays through the “Going the Extra Mile” program. However, there are other products made of polystyrene foam, apart from foam lunch trays, which are recyclable. These recyclable products can be recognized by the symbol #6-PS in a triangle found underneath packages. Polystyrene foam is also used to create shock absorbent blocks for packing electronic goods like computers. It would be nice if the program included these for recycling as well.

The Need to Promote Lunch Tray Recycling in Schools

School waste consists of 80% recyclable items. That is why encouraging eco friendly promotional items in schools can have a large impact. Apart from reducing the amount of recyclable paper that is unnecessarily sent to landfills, recycling at schools also has the benefit of imbuing students with eco friendly behavior.