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November 15 - America Recycles Day
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Learn how reducing, reusing, and recycling can help you, your community and the environment by saving money, energy and natural resources. Recycling programs are managed at the state and local level—find information on recycling in your community.
"Student project leads to 1st foam tray recycler in state"
"What began as a Little Miami middle school research project has led to a first-of-its-kind Styrofoam tray recycler in Ohio." Instead of sitting in a landfill for centuries, used Styrofoam school lunch trays are being converted to paving bricks. After undergoing a process called densification (short 10 hour process), the trays are converted into a single square brick that feels like glass or tile but is solid as a rock. Densification involves removing air from Styrofoam and using heat to melt it into a liquid resin that, when cooled, forms bricks from bundling multiple foam lunch trays.
Foam lunch trays turned into reusable products:
Little Miami is the first school district in the state of Ohio to use a StyroGenie machine to create a closed-loop recycling system for the foam trays used in some of the district’s cafeterias. Findings included that this machine presented a possible cost effective path to reduce the schools’ foam tray footprint by more than 90%, reducing trash volume and waste disposal costs.
Save money by decreasing waste removal costs:
"The StyroGenie is a low cost machine that is easy to use and is a responsible choice for the environment. Standing at six feet by four feet, the StyroGenie can hold up to 1200 trays in each cycle. While it takes about ten hours for the trays to be densified, the machine only uses the same amount of electricity as an average hair dryer. In addition, it operates without any moving parts or harmful emissions, making it safe for the environment." -
Little Miami Schools Food Service Director, Rachel Tilford, purchased the StyroGenie machine for the Little Miami District after learning about its existence through a group of middle school students (members of a local First LEGO League team). The team’s challenge in the 2015 competition was to identify a piece of trash to research and invent a solution to "help the trash problem". The students chose Styrofoam cafeteria trays; they researched ways on how to reduce waste in Little Miami lunchrooms. That’s when they found out about the StyroGenie.
View in the News video:
Thank you Mrs. Tilford for taking extra time to meet with Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District and with our LMHS Intern and Volunteer, Ms. Honigford.
We also extend our gratitude to LMJH Principal, Mr. Ryan Cherry, for sharing more about the recycling efforts on a "school wide" basis. We enjoyed learning more about this phenomenal idea and how the idea came about.. We hope more districts can "get on board".
Other StryoGenies in the news - Lake Hills Elementary School, Michigan City,
"The school's trash output in the cafeteria has gone down from 52 to 15 bags a day."
The cost of the StyroGenie for Lake Hills Elementary was $12,000, "but it should pay for itself in two years from refuse disposal savings." Plus, "It's the right thing to do," - STEM coordinator at the school said,
Bricks were painted and placed in the school garden for decorative purposes and for a walkway incentive. The city's street department was contacted for additional use for the bricks.
"In addition to promoting a safe environment, the Styro-Genie shows students what is possible if they open up their minds." Lake Hills Elementary is also preparing kids to be problem solvers and creative thinkers as to solve some of the problems the world might have in the future.
Resources for Students and Educators:
Office of Environmental Education: epa.ohio.gov/oee/
Grants: Ohio EPA's competitive grants provide opportunities for communities, local governments, businesses and non-profit organizations to establish and implement recycling, recycling market development, litter prevention and scrap tire recycling programs. See what grants are awarded on an annual basis. Applications are generally available in October and the deadline for application is early February.
Additional Funding Opportunities: Ohio EPA has funding available for a wide variety of environmental projects such as helping communities plan and complete water and wastewater projects, promoting environmental education and reducing the impact of nonpoint source pollution. For more information about the funding sources available, click on the link below or view a summary of funding programs.
Rural Action’s Zero Waste Pledge Program encourages local organizations to strive for zero waste. They help businesses and organizations achieve their goals by working one-on-one with them to identify waste that is being produced and ways to reduce it. The zero waste pledge shows the business is committed to using natural resources wisely, increasing its environmental consciousness, and supporting the local economy through waste reduction, recycling, composting, and reuse.
We are pleased to have Little Miami High School Senior, Ms. Honigford, intern and volunteer with Warren County SWCD and the Warren County Water Department. We wish Ms. Honigford the best in her endeavors as she further explores environmental engineering careers.