About Our Project

The RI School Recycling Project was created in 2001, in partnership with the RI Resource Recovery Corporation and the RI Department of Environmental Management to improve recycling in RI schools. At that time, the number of schools recycling properly was 18% – among the lowest in New England. When our program ended on 2007, the recycling rate in schools had increased to 68%!
Results like that prove that change is possible. So, we’re focusing on food waste in RI schools – and how to reduce, recover and recycle it.

The Math is Difficult to Understand

With a grant from the RI Attorney General’s Office in 2019, RISRP conducted 15 food waste audits in three public school districts, including elementary, middle and high schools, in urban, suburban and rural settings. We wanted to know how much – and what kind of – food was being wasted.
The numbers are hard to swallow. We estimate that RI public schools waste approximately 13.8 tons of food each week, which translates to 2,500 tons for the school year, with 388 tons of that food unopened or untouched: fruit, granola bars, yogurt, cheese sticks and milk! With our Central Landfill in Johnston almost full and hunger in our state at dire levels, we knew where to focus our efforts.


Our Wish to End Waste Is Being Granted

In partnership with the RI Department of Environmental Management, the RI School Recycling Project has been awarded a Healthy Communities Grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency. Our two-year initiative will select schools who want to step up to the plate, and take the “Get Food Smart, RI” challenge! We’ll guide them as they implement their own programs for reducing, recovering and recycling food waste. We’ll help them assemble “green teams” and then provide coaching and training. Plus, there will be financial assistance for schools with the best plans!
Together we will help achieve the goal the nation set in 2015 to reduce food waste by 50% by 2030. We will do this by measuring the food waste we prevent, recover and divert from the central landfill and interpreting that data on our Food Waste Dashboard.
Our goal is to divert more than 75  tons of wasted food from the Central Landfill in the 23/24 school year and donate 5 tons of perfectly good food to hungry kids and their families. But more than that, we need to inspire the next generation of environmental leaders, providing them with the tools they need to create sustainable solutions.