- The Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF) is launching the School Cafeteria Discards Assessment Project (SCrAP) to better understand the amount and type of waste being discarded in schools, as reported by Waste Advantage.
- EREF aims to involve hundreds of K-12 schools from around the country in the project during the 2016-2017 school year. Schools can participate on different levels ranging from completing a questionnaire to weighing cafeteria waste bins and recording the data.
- Participating schools can receive educational materials, customized sustainability reports and potential prize money. More information can be found on EREF's website.
According to EREF, the benefits of participating in SCrAP include the possibility to develop better waste management strategies, reduce food costs and increase education for students and staff. Food budgets are tight in many schools so finding ways to reduce waste both behind the scenes in kitchens and at the tables on students' trays could make a big difference.
While much work is happening to reduce and recover wasted food at schools throughout the country, little comprehensive research has been done to understand the overall issue. Other upcoming research projects intend to analyze food waste at schools, restaurants and other businesses to understand how to capture these scraps more efficiently for donations.
The education component of this project is key because students can bring their knowledge about recycling home to their families and hopefully carry it with them into adulthood. Initiatives such as Keep America Beautiful's annual Recycle-Bowl have shown the potential for engaging students and more work can be done. The need for widespread acceptance of waste reduction and recycling habits will only become more important for future generations.