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Managing waste in Kindergartens and Early Learning Centres

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Developing a waste management program

This waste management guide aims to assist educators and support staff in kindergartens and early learning centres to develop a waste management program for their centre that reduces the impact of waste on the school, community, environment and economy, and reduces the cost of managing your centre’s waste.

It explains how you research your local requirements, conduct a waste audit (litter, visual waste and solid waste audits) to establish the amount and types of waste your school or centre is currently generating which provides a baseline to measure the results of your waste minimisation efforts.

This information will assist you to create a waste management action plan and prioritise key issues using the waste hierarchy. The guide includes a comprehensive list of ideas to get you started and to maintain the momentum of your action plan.

Waste management guide topics

  • Research local requirements: Local council’s across Australia are responsible for the safe, legal and efficient collection of waste in their area. Councils differ in size, budget, geography and local issues and so differ in the types of infrastructure they have for managing waste. Recycling facilities are not available in many Queensland communities. Contact your local council waste division to learn how different waste materials are managed and how your local council can support your school.
  • Conduct a waste audit: The first step to reducing waste at your centre is to conduct an audit. Collecting information about your centre’s current waste procedures will help you to identify the amount and types of waste sent to landfill and highlight potential opportunities for minimising waste. A waste audit is a process designed to analyse the amount and types of waste generated by your centre. It provides the baseline data against which all waste minimisation progress can be measured in the future. There are several types of waste audits that provide valuable information for minimising waste—litter audits, visual waste audits and solid waste audits. Waste audits can be done manually, as outlined in this guide; however, some councils provide an online waste calculator so check with your council.
  • Developing an action plan: The  waste audit information that you collect will assist you to create a waste management action plan and prioritise key issues.
  • Making your plan work: Once you have planned your waste management actions, it is time to put your ideas into practice. Start small and concentrate on implementing one new initiative at a time. There are tips to help you implement your action plan.

The guide includes a wealth of ideas to get started, addressing topics such as

  • packaging and purchasing
  • reducing waste
  • repair
  • reuse
  • recycling and organic recycling

Brisbane City Council’s Setting up a Waste Smart Kindy

The information in this guide was adapted, with permission, from the Brisbane City Council’s Setting up a Waste Smart Kindy online professional development program[1]. Waste Smart Kindy is an accreditation program for Brisbane kindergartens and early learning centres which recognises their achievements in implementing and improving their centre’s sustainable waste practices. Among other criteria, most staff in the kindy need to complete online professional development which includes the following information about how to develop an effective action plan for waste management.

This document is part of a suite of free waste education resources at www.wasteeducation-qld.org

[1] © Brisbane City Council 2016 Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Licence


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