About Our Project
The RI Schools 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.