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GCPS Researching Use, Disposal of Lunch Trays

Following a mother's concern about Styrofoam trays at Gwinnett County Public Schools, officials said the system recently lost its recycling partner but are looking at alternatives.

Gwinnett County school officials are responding to a mother's petition for the district to stop its use of Styrofoam trays.

Last week, Lilburn-Mountain Park Patch ran an article featuring Beth Remmes, the mother of two who began the Change.org petition.

Now, Gwinnett County Public Schools is responding. In an email response sent from Jorge Quintana, a spokesman, the district had this to say:

"As an environmentally responsible organization, Gwinnett County Public Schools has been researching options to improve the current use and disposal of our school lunch trays.

"Unfortunately, the school district was recently forced to stop recycling its lunch trays when its recycling partner went out of business due to the state of the economy.

"In fact, GCPS was the first school district in Georgia to start recycling lunch trays systemwide, an initiative that earned Gwinnett County Public Schools the "Outstanding K-12 School Program Award" from the National Recycling Coalition.

"As part of our continuous improvement efforts, our district is always communicating with other large districts from throughout the nation and private corporations researching their best practices.The most cost-effective and environmentally-friendly alternative the district has found so far would come at an increased cost of $800,000 annually.

"The district is proud of the fact that its School Nutrition Program is self-funded, meaning it is funded by cafeteria sales and does not pull scarce taxpayer dollars from the classroom. While the current tray system is a safe, effective option, the school system will continue to research options to improve lunchroom tray disposal.

"Not only is GCPS hoping to find an alternative that will help the district continue being kind to mother nature, but one that the district also will be able to financially sustain."

See related stories:

  • Lilburn Mom to Gwinnett Schools: 'Stop Using Styrofoam Trays'
  • GCPS Adding More Healthy Options to School Lunches
  • School Menu Changes Include Price Hike
  • School Meals Getting an Upgrade in Gwinnett
Kelly Blake October 04, 2012 at 01:43 PM
This isn't just about being kind to mother nature. It's about preventing our kids from being exposed to toxic cancer causing chemicals in styrofoam when their young bodies are at their most fragile and affected stages. I hope they see the benefits far exceed the momentary expense. If more schools recycled styrofoam then there would be a greater need for companies to recycle. Don't we care about what we are putting in our bodies?
Pat Gabilondo October 04, 2012 at 02:19 PM
Whatever awards you've won in the past are irrelevant, GCPS. Situations change and then new decisions need to be made. Hard to believe that there are no other cost effective solutions. Perhaps a new set of eyes with new focus can solve the problem in the short-term without over-engineering.
Beth Remmes October 04, 2012 at 03:14 PM
Thank you GCPS for researching this issue. I would love to see the breakdown of the cost analysis of the different options. Is this available somewhere or could there be a meeting to discuss? Also, do you think your supplier is open to negotiation to provide a more ecofriendly alternative at a simar price? It seems like a product made from recycled paper/cardboard had the potential to cost less than one made from petroleum. How much more would it cost to pay someone to wash the reusable trays? Wouldn't it be better to create jobs than to literally throw the money away? Thanks again for your consideration.

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