Topic of the practice
Waste awareness, education and sustainable resource management
Good Practice Information
Schools across Cumbria produce around 2,200 tonnes of waste every year. Cumbria County Council’s Waste Education Team and district council officers work specifically with schools to encourage them to embrace the 3Rs: reduce, reuse and recycle. The team offers schools a free service to help them find ways to reduce their waste, to reuse what resources they can and then link in to local recycling services. The team also helps schools with their purchasing, encouraging them to buy recycled products where possible and also to compost their fruit and vegetable waste.
All of these actions help schools become sustainable and take part in the national Eco- Schools award scheme. This is a “whole school, whole environment” programme which aims to make schools lean and green learning machines. There are three levels of award once a school has registered for the scheme - bronze, silver and green flag (which entitles the holder school to fly the green flag and use the logo on its stationery). There are 8 schools in Cumbria which currently hold the green flag.
Cockermouth School was the first secondary school in Cumbria that gained Eco School status and the prestigious Green Flag (2008). Over a number of years Cockermouth School in cooperation with the Cumbria County Council’s Waste Education Team has engaged in large and small environmental activities, including recycling and energy reduction. It encourages good practice of sustainability, utilises the school students to take the message home so as to stimulate better domestic practice, and uses the school's network of local schools to spread good practice.
The principal stakeholders are: 1) the County Council, which focuses on reducing waste arising from schools and households so as to reduce its expenditure on waste disposal; 2) the schools benefiting from reduced costs of waste disposal; 3) better informed students; and 4) the Cumbrian public, which will benefit from reduced council expenditure on waste and the concomitant reduction of Carbon Dioxide production.
Liaison with local district councils produced a better recycling service for the school. The Cumbria County Council’s Waste Education Team also supported the school, helping it to hold a series of Eco-days at which surrounding schools were given exemplars of good practice, and were encouraged to take steps themselves to become more sustainable. The school has hosted a number of seminars for external projects including hosting a visit from European delegates involved in the Interreg IVC Waste to Energy project who were able to discuss how the learning about waste management has changed the students’ behaviour and the management of the school.
Evidence of success
Cockermouth School has retained its Green Flag status for the international Eco Schools programme following successful inspection. It has become a beacon of good practice, attracting visitors from other Local Education Authorities who wish to see exemplars of good practice. As a result of practical audits and other activities in the school by our officers, students have had access to real-world data on the impact of their own activities to use in their learning, rather than having to use hypothetical examples. They have seen how much waste they actually produce, and have been able to suggest practical and feasible ways of reducing this. As a result of pupil engagement, the school has taken practical steps to reduce its waste.
Contact details to obtain further information on the practice
Cumbria County Council
Annex completed on: 11-07-2011