Operations Team Supports Campus Sustainability Efforts

By Laura Fleming
In February, the entire Operations team met with leaders from the Upper School’s “Closing the Loop” group to explore ways to make the system for collecting campus food waste more effective and sustainable. They wanted to create a solution to the question, “How can Poly increase food waste diversion, reduce single-use plastic bin liners, minimize labor and ultimately save the school money?” The students proposed a bucket collection option, but after listening to team members’ concerns regarding increased labor to clean buckets, the students suggested abandoning the idea.
After the meeting, new Operations team member Cesar Angel started thinking about how bucket collection could work. “I like to listen, and sitting down together allowed everyone to participate. As I heard all the perspectives, I started brainstorming about solutions,” he said.
Cesar Angel and David Rosales created a prototype for custom stands to hold the buckets. During spring break, they built 14 custom bucket stands for each waste sorting station on Poly's campus.
Veteran team members Oscar Cervantes and Gary Almonte collected sawdust from the woodshop to place in each bucket to absorb liquids and make the buckets easier to clean, repurposing more of Poly’s organic waste and truly closing the loop. The result? The bucket system launched on April 4 and is meeting all the following intended objectives: increasing food waste diversion, eliminating plastic bin liners, minimizing labor, and saving the school several thousand dollars a year in supplies. 
All the campus food scraps collected during the launch week are composted on-site in our compost bins beginning on April 9, closing the loop on our waste and reducing greenhouse gasses.