What is the Waste-Free Lunch Challenge?
The Waste-Free Lunch Challenge is a school program developed by the Recycling Council of Ontario.
The goal of the program is to help schools decrease the amount of garbage they produce and to educate students, staff and parents about waste reduction.
School lunches are a major source of waste in Ontario. The average student’s lunch generates a total of 30 kg (66 lbs.) of waste per school year, and an average elementary school generates 8,500 kg (18,700 lbs.) of waste per year.
There are two features of the program:
The Challenge itself, where students commit to bringing a waste-free lunch every day during Waste Reduction Week.
A competition where classrooms/schools who register for the program, monitor the waste produced from their lunches on a normal day (prior to the Challenge) and then again each day during the week-long Waste-Free Lunch Challenge. Schools complete two waste audits: one before and one during the challenge. To enter the competition, classrooms/schools are asked to submit a final entry form with their results and a brief summary of their experience. Prizes will be awarded to classrooms/schools with significant changes in the amount of garbage sent to landfill and those who make a contribution to improving waste management practices across the whole school.
Prizes are awarded to classrooms/schools that are most successful in reducing the amount of waste generated from their school lunches.
Schools will self-categorize based on their current waste reduction policies and practices. Participating classrooms/schools that submit a final entry form in the Waste-Free Lunch Challenge will be eligible for prizes that will support their waste reduction efforts.
When is the Challenge taking place?
Dates for the 2017 Waste-Free Lunch Challenge coming soon!
Who can participate?
All schools (elementary, secondary, and post-secondary institutions) are welcome to register and participate. Schools outside of Ontario are encouraged to register and submit their waste reduction results. Only Ontario elementary schools (jk-8) are eligible to win prizes.
Who is eligible to win prizes?
Ontario elementary classes or schools from jk to grade eight are eligible to win prizes if they have registered for WFLC. Classrooms/schools may be from public, private, independent or religious schools.
What do I need to do?
Individual classes and schools are challenged to bring a waste-free lunch every day during Waste Reduction (see our Teacher Resources section for help in planning your challenge). Teachers can register participating classes and schools before or on Oct. 17, 2016.
Registered classrooms or schools are asked to commit to measuring the waste produced from their lunches on a normal day (prior to the challenge) and then again each day during the Waste-Free Lunch Challenge.
To enter the competition, classrooms/schools are asked to submit an entry form with their results and a brief summary of their experience. Prizes will be awarded to classrooms/schools with significant changes in the amount of garbage sent to landfill and those who make a contribution to improving waste management practices across the whole school (only those schools that submit a completed entry form will be eligible for prizes). It’s that easy.
Our school sends lunch waste home using a boomerang program. Do I need to include this material in the waste audit?
Yes! All lunch material must be included in the waste audit.
How do I submit the final result?
Participants will be able to submit their final result online starting Oct. 26 and ending Nov. 20. The waste audit tool will help determine your final result automatically when you enter the information from your daily audit. However, if you are unable to utilize this tool, we recommend that you print the Waste Audit tool, enter the information and complete calculations manually.
Click here to download the printable version of the Waste Audit tool.
What are the benefits of participating in the Waste-Free Lunch Challenge?
The Waste-Free Lunch Challenge is an easy way to inspire your students and school community to implement the 3Rs – Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. The program also provides opportunities to:
1. Achieve learning outcomes in subject areas including Mathematics, Science and Technology and Social Studies
2. Connect with your local community by involving parents, guardians and community groups in Waste-Free Lunch Challenge activities
3. Increase awareness of the use of packaging and waste reduction opportunities in your school and at home
4. Reduce waste generation resulting from school lunches and take a step towards long term cost-savings for waste management
5. Beautify your school by reducing litter
6. Be part of an Ontario-wide environmental initiative and make waste reduction a skill for life
7. Earn a chance to win prizes.
Where can I get more information or ask questions?
The Teacher Resource section on this site includes program materials and tips to help you plan your waste-free lunch event. These include a sample letter to parents, ideas for how to pack a waste-free lunch, sample PA announcements and other class/school activities, garbage/recycling facts, website links, and suggestions for curriculum connections.
Information about what can be recycled in individual Ontario communities is available through the Stewardship Ontario “Recycling With Your Blue Box“ webpage.
If you have additional questions, you are welcome to get in touch with the Program Manager. Click here for contact information.
Who is organizing the Waste-Free Lunch Challenge?
The Ontario Waste-Free Lunch Challenge is an initiative of the Recycling Council of Ontario
The Recycling Council of Ontario is a not-for-profit organization committed to minimizing society's impact on the environment by eliminating waste. RCO's mission is to inform and educate all members of society about the generation of waste, the avoidance of waste, the more efficient use of resources and the benefits and/or consequences of these activities. Since its inception in 1978, RCO has actively assisted municipalities, corporations, other organizations and individuals in reducing their waste. For more information about the RCO visit www.rco.on.ca