The Recycling and Waste Minimization Section of the DEQ Solid Waste Division conducted a pilot locker clean out with two East Baton Rouge Parish Schools on June 2 and 4, 1997. The participating schools were McKinley Middle Magnet School and Baton Rouge Magnet High School. Methodology for collecting the white paper involved using plastic trash bags in a labeled bin. When the bag was approximately half full, it was removed and a new bag placed in the bin. This was for ease in handling and protecting the material.
We worked with the administration of each school to facilitate instructions to students and faculty. We learned at the first school, McKinley Middle, that we did not take enough DEQ personnel to supervise the clean out. While we recovered a nearly full truck load of white paper (700pounds - 800pounds) for recycling and numerous unused and still usable notebooks, binders and paper, we also had to perform an extensive post-collection sort on materials that we recovered. The collection points without a DEQ staff person to monitor and assist the students with sorting and discarding were the points which required the most post sort activities. The facility consisted of two buildings with two floors each and one of these buildings having two separate wings.
At Baton Rouge Magnet High, the facility consisted of one building with three floors and two wings. We placed three collection points on each floor with at least one staff person at each point. Each collection point had a white paper bin, a miscellaneous bin and a discard or throwaway container for trash. This event was more successful. We collected a greater quantity of white paper (approximately 1,000pounds) and many more useable notebooks, binders, graph paper, pens, markers and composition books.
We also collected articles of clothing that students brought to the bins. Some of these students just didn't want to have to carry these items home so they left them with us. These were washed by staff and donated to a local charity organization. The recovered supplies (filling 18 boxes) will be made available to various schools with disadvantage students and/or mission projects in need of these types of materials.
Additional lessons learned include more organization, more staff and more supervision of the younger students will ensure a greater success to this type of project. Teachers also can be recruited to supervise the collection of the recyclable materials within their rooms. A mid-year project could be as successful as the end of year; one teacher did indicate that the school conducts this for cleaning purposes and it would be another opportunity to capture recyclables and useable materials.