Omaha school takes recycling to the next level

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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A new lunchtime program at one Omaha elementary school is giving kids a real life lesson in environmental impact, and showing how smaller steps can really add up.

A small change is making a big impact for students at Fontenelle Elementary School. A new composting program that was introduced just weeks ago is showing big promise.

"It's amazing. I didn't know if it would work, but we only have three trash cans a day, 30 bags is what we used to. 24-30 bags. That's incredible, that's a lot," said principal Eric Nelson.

The idea is simple: after students have their lunch, they separate milk cartons and plastics into the trash. Then , leftover food and paper is thrown into green bins. Paper trays are stacked next to the bins. These items are all compostable.

"generally, around half of the waste produced in a lunch period is compostable. So, it's now going to our compost farm in Ashland, Nebraska and we're going to turn it into nutrient dense soil," said Brent Crampton with Hillside Solutions.

Before, the school produced roughly 5,000 landfill waste bags from lunch in a year. Now, with the compost change, the school is thinking that number will greatly be reduced to about 600 bags.

It's a change the City of Omaha is excited about.

"I think what they're doing over there at Fontenelle is really great stuff," said Jim Theiler with the City of Omaha Public Works and Environmental Services.

It's the little changes over time that add up, he said.

"I hope it goes citywide. I hope every school does it," Nelson said.

The City of Omaha has recently updated their solid waste program website and has some more tips for waste reduction and recycling.