For Sidcot, one of Somerset’s leading independent day and boarding schools, excellent education is just the start. As well as inspiring a culture of support and growth, the school is also committed to teaching students about the importance of sustainability.
As part of an innovative programme of environmental initiatives, the facilities team enlisted the help of ReFood to introduce a site-wide food waste recycling scheme. Less than six months later, Sidcot recycles 100% of its food waste – which is used to create renewable energy, rather than being sent to landfill.
Stepping up to the plate
Based in Winscombe, North Somerset, Sidcot is committed to the highest possible standards of education and learning. As well as great teaching, friendly classes and a commitment to personal development, staff and students hold sustainability as one of their key values, placing great emphasis on a responsibility to protect the earth.
The school is committed to environmentally-friendly measures and, as such, has a committee dedicated to identifying and introducing green initiatives – SAGE (Sidcot Action for a Greener Environment). From embracing energy efficient technologies and investing in strategies to reduce the use of energy and reliance on fossil fuels, to encouraging rare wildlife to nest across the site, SAGE continues to make great strides towards helping Sidcot go green.
However, one aspect of the school day which has continued to pose a problem for the SAGE team is the amount of food wasted through school dinners. According to statistics from the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), schools across the country generate 80,382 tonnes of food waste – enough to fill 32 Olympic-sized swimming pools – every year.
Sidcot was keen to tackle this issue, so enlisted the help of ReFood, the UK’s leading food waste recycler, to implement a school-wide food waste recycling programme.
An environmental alternative
The initiative is simple. Every week, ReFood delivers a number of sanitised bins to the school, via its private waste collection fleet. As well as being used in the school kitchens to separate waste at its source, plate scrapings from the canteen are put directly into these recycling bins, rather than disposed of in general waste.
Once full, the ReFood team collects the food waste bins and replaces them with clean, sanitised ones. The unwanted food waste is taken directly to one of ReFood’s state-of-the-art Anaerobic Digestion (AD) plants, where it is converted into renewable energy and sustainable biofertiliser. The resulting energy is exported to the national grid, while the sustainable biofertiliser is used by local farmers to aid crop growth.
As well as being a highly environmentally-friendly alternative to sending food waste to landfill, the service is also highly cost efficient, saving around 46% on waste disposal costs. Simple and sustainable, the process has further added to Sidcot’s eco credentials, while impacting directly on the bottom line.
Six months after introducing the initiative, Sidcot is now recycling 100% of all food waste generated on site – a huge step forward in sustainability. Stuart Brewin, head of facilities at Sidcot School, commented: “We’ve worked hard to make our school one of the most sustainable in the UK, through a number of innovative initiatives.
“Working with ReFood to recycle our food waste has been a hugely important part of the process, delivering significant end results. It’s important that we carry on our commitment to food waste reduction, so working with such a forward thinking company really helps.”
Philip Simpson, commercial director at ReFood, added: “Sidcot has a well-deserved reputation for sustainability and by recycling its food waste, Sidcot has been able to minimise waste management costs, while improving their green credentials.”
Going green for the future
Staff and pupils have been so inspired by the recycling initiative that they’ve introduced a number of commitments to help the school become even more eco-friendly. As well as taking part in National Waste Week on an annual basis, the teaching staff have introduced a number of exciting activities – within the curriculum – to raise awareness of how much food waste is generated by the school and what can be done to address it.
An inter-house ‘Less-Food Waste’ competition is also held each year, which sees all senior students and staff encouraged to try and reduce their food waste at lunchtimes. Year 8 and 9 students also participate in a World Changing Ideas programme, presenting their eco-friendly research and suggestions to other pupils and staff.
Going forward, Sidcot will continue to place significant emphasis on improving its environmental credentials. Alongside maintaining regular food waste recycling collections, staff and students will continued to identify and introduce green initiatives through the SAGE committee.
For more information about ReFood, or the company’s innovative food waste recycling solution, visit www.refood.co.uk.