Hillsboro School District Milk Carton Recycling Effort Draws National Attention

For Immediate Release: Monday, February 25, 2013

Sponsored by: Health and Human Services Department, Solid Waste & Recycling (SW&R) Division

On February 28, Carton Council representatives will tour two Hillsboro schools while in town for the Oregon Green Schools Conference. The Carton Council is a group of packaging companies seeking to reduce the environmental impact of cartons by expanding recycling programs across the country and continuously improving cartons' environmental performance.

The Hillsboro School District (HSD) is gaining attention for a partnership with Washington County Solid Waste & Recycling to improve recycling at all of the district's 35 schools and administration office. Milk cartons are the primary focus of their efforts.

Nearly all of the district's elementary and middle schools are participating in the updated cafeteria recycling program. County and school district staff are currently working with Hillsboro High School staff to update their recycling program as well, a model that will then be used at the district's other high schools.

Each year, HSD purchases upwards of three million milk cartons, equating to nearly 48 tons of material. All of this is now being recycled rather than thrown out.

There are also significant financial benefits. Eliminating the milk cartons and the weight of leftover milk from the waste stream has allowed the school district to drastically reduce garbage service. In 2011-2012, HSD saved $62,883 in garbage collection fees. Anticipated savings for this school year have already topped $66,000.

In addition to recycling the milk cartons, students also properly dispose of other acceptable recyclables (e.g., beverage and clear plastic containers) as well as chip bags and juice pouches that are sent to Terra Cycle for recycling. Washington County Solid Waste & Recycling has worked extensively with school personnel to train on-site janitorial staff and school volunteers on how to operate and oversee the comprehensive disposal/collection system.  

Washington County Solid Waste & Recycling program staff, along with Washington County Environmental Health and the Oregon Department of Education, created a guide on preventing food waste in the school kitchen setting. The document has been distributed to every school district in Washington County and is also being used by school districts outside of the county. It can be found on Washington County's website at http://www.co.washington.or.us/HHS/SWR/recycle-at-school.cfm.


Media Contact:

Wendy Gordon, PIO