Students at all 44 campuses in the Chula Vista Elementary School District are going the extra mile when it comes to recycling.
The school district, in conjunction with P&R Paper Supply Company, is participating in the Going the Extra Mile foam-recycling program.
The recycling program recycles students’ foam lunch trays into picture frames while generating financial savings for the district, said Anthony Millican, communications officer for the Chula Vista Elementary School District.
Millican said the district saves money by reducing the number of truck trips for trash disposal.
Millican could not estimate how much money would be saved because the district has not completed a cost-savings study.
P&R Paper Supply is a distributor of foam lunch trays.
“This program helps us recycle, reduce waste and it encourages students to learn about the benefits to the environment of reducing waste and reusing products,” Millican said.
Each week 90,000 foam lunch trays are recycled from all the schools in the district, Millican said.
“Think of the amount, the volume of breakfast and lunch that is served each school day at 44 campuses,” he said. “So recycling, reducing our waste and reusing in terms of environmental benefits are very important to us.”
When it comes to recycling these foam trays, a blue recycling bin is not needed. Millican said students just stack the trays up on a cart.
Dart Container Corp., manufacturer of foam containers, takes the foam trays from the district and ships them to their center in Corona.
Dart then chops the material, washes it in 160 degree water, uses a spray nozzle to knock out any excess food, then places the material in a thermal densifier to dry at 250 degrees.
Once the material dries, it gets shipped to NEPCO, another manufacturer that makes picture frames and crown molding out of the recycled lunch trays.
Director of recycling programs with Dart Container Michael Westerfield said not too many people know that lunch trays can be recycled.
“It reduces dependency on new resources, especially at schools. They don’t need to waste trays,” Westerfield said. “A lot of people don’t know these trays are recyclable.”
Millican said recycling doesn’t end at the Chula Vista Elementary School District with the Going the Extra Mile program.
“We have a number of energy- saving features that are in our district,” he said. “As a district we are going to great lengths to reduce our consumption of paper products.”
Most consumers wouldn’t know that the picture frames were made of a lunch tray, Millican said.
“Most consumers probably wouldn’t know unless you turn it around and it tells you what material it is made out of.”
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to NEPCO as NETCO.The Star-News regrets the error.