The Jefferson County Solid Waste Authority discussed the Punxsutawney Area School District restarting its worm composting program during its recent meeting, as well as some legislation impacting recycling programs. Solid Waste Director Donna Cooper said PASD had a worm composting program in the past that started in September of 2015. It was suspended once the renovations of the schools started. The district is now ready to start the program again.
She anticipates there being worm bins placed at both schools, with a total of 10 bins. During the program’s use in 2015, the school collected 1,540 pounds of food composted and diverted from landfills. In 2016, there was 2,100 pounds diverted and 11 pounds of newspaper used for bedding. In 2017, the school diverted 1,040 pounds of food and used 128 pounds of newspapers.
Cooper shared some of the benefits this program offers the students, like enhancing their knowledge of proper waste management and how to improve the environment. This kind of project is a good tie-in with science, as the process relies on biology and chemistry and can be featured in the curriculum. It is also the perfect connection to the Farm to School grant that was recently awarded to build school gardens, create culinary demonstrations to highlight local food and farms, and help build community connections. The benefits of worm composting at the school are a long term solution to food waste, as well as reducing the school’s carbon footprint, according to Cooper.