At Preshil, we believe that sustainability is not just a concept to learn about in textbooks, but a way of life that should be ingrained in our daily practices. That’s why, in 2022, we eagerly signed up for the ResourceSmart Schools program, a free initiative offered to all Victorian schools by Sustainability Victoria. This five-module program has been designed to help schools like ours embed sustainability across various aspects of our operations, learning and teaching, and school community engagement. We are excited to share our progress in each module and the positive impact it has had on our school community and the environment.
Let’s take a closer look at the progress we have made in the various modules:
Core Module: Laying the Foundation
In the Core Module, we laid the groundwork for our sustainability initiatives by drafting several policies that serve as guiding principles for our actions. These policies include the School Environment Management Plan, Sustainable School Policy, Green Purchasing Policy and Guide, and Green Events Policy. By having these policies in place, we have set a clear path towards a more sustainable future for Preshil.
Furthermore, our office staff back-entered a year’s worth of bills and established a baseline for waste, energy, water, and copy-paper usage at our Arlington campus. This step was crucial in understanding our current consumption patterns and identifying areas for improvement.
Preshil Waste Module: Minimising Waste and Maximizing Recycling
In the Waste Module, we collaborated with waste consultants from Reground, who conducted a comprehensive weight-based waste audit of a sample of general waste at our Arlington Campus on 31st August 2023. The results were eye-opening, revealing that a staggering 84.1% of the waste in the landfill bin could have been recycled or composted. Armed with these findings, we took swift action and successfully implemented a range of recommendations to tackle our waste challenges.
First and foremost, we introduced a five-bin system in all learning and staff areas, making it easier for everyone to separate waste correctly. We also installed educational signage to raise awareness and promote responsible waste disposal practices. Additionally, we implemented a compost system for the entire school’s food waste, ensuring that organic materials are repurposed instead of ending up in landfills.
As part of our commitment to sustainability, we adopted a zero-green waste to landfill policy and established a specialty recycling hub for our staff and the broader community. Moreover, we partnered with KS Environmental to implement a cardboard and paper recycling stream. To minimize our environmental footprint further, we replaced “biodegradable” bin liners with recycled plastic bags. Additionally, we actively dismantled end-of-unit work into recyclable and reusable parts, fostering a circular approach to resource utilization. We also made efforts to rehome unwanted furniture items, giving them a new lease on life.
Through these initiatives, we have made significant strides in waste reduction and diversion. By correctly separating waste into the appropriate streams and significantly reducing paper towel usage, we are confident that we will achieve our goal of an 80% reduction in landfill waste. Since August 2022, the implementation of the new bin systems has already resulted in a landfill waste reduction of at least 50% across both our campuses.
The impact of these waste reduction efforts extends beyond environmental benefits. Previously, our landfill skip used to be picked up twice a week. However, thanks to the concerted efforts of our sustainability committee, it now requires collection only once a week. This reduction in landfill waste pickups is estimated to save the school more than $3,000 annually. We achieved this by separating paper/cardboard, soft plastics, food waste, and recyclables, ensuring that materials are disposed of properly and not missed in the recycling process.
We are now a zero-food and zero-garden waste-to-landfill school, congratulations!
The Energy Module will begin in Term 2 2023 with an energy audit and staff PD. We will look to explore how we reduce our energy usage through behavioural change as well as the feasibility of solar panels. Watch this space!