Reduce, reuse, and recycle are three additional R's that Toledo Public Schools officials are including in students' educations.
The first three R's - reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic - are still the focus, but beginning this school year, TPS has partnered with Lott Industries of Toledo to provide recycling at the middle and high schools.
Lott, a not-for-profit corporation that provides employment opportunities for nearly 900 Lucas County adults with developmental disabilities, will put recycling bins and liners in all 16 Toledo public middle and high schools.
The bins - four in each middle school and seven in each high school - will collect aluminum cans, plastic bottles, and paper, three of the biggest contributors to the waste stream.
Lott staff members will pick up the recyclables from the bins on a regular basis and will sort, load, compact, and bail the items.
"We've been providing drinks [in cans and plastic bottles] to our students through the beverage machines, and [the cans and bottles are] going right into the waste stream," Superintendent John Foley said.
He said that prior to the Lott partnership, schools were encouraging students to recycle, but many weren't doing it themselves.
Another benefit: "It isn't costing us a thing - that's the great thing about it," he said.
Lott purchased several hundred recycling bins to be placed in Toledo schools and other public and private schools throughout the area.
"At some point, we hope to get the volume high enough so it will pay for the investment. But in the meantime, we think it's the right thing to do," said Joan Uhl Browne, president of Lott.
The initiative in Toledo Public Schools adds to other recycling efforts in place throughout the district and other schools in the county.
Keep Toledo/Lucas County Beautiful, a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to promoting recycling practices, has a full- ime staff member who visits schools talking about the need for and benefits of recycling.
Over the last five years, as the demand from schools to launch recycling programs has grown, that organization has partnered with the Lucas County Solid Waste Management District to provide refurbished bins to recycle paper at more than 80 area schools.
"Almost everywhere in Lucas County, you have the option to recycle at home. And what better way to complete that than to recycle in the schools," said Juliana Sample, executive director of Keep Toledo/Lucas County Beautiful.
In addition to the environmental and educational benefits of the latest recycling initiative, Mrs. Browne with Lott also sees the effort as a way to provide jobs for the developmentally disabled.
She said that since the loss of 400 jobs following the closure of the Ford Stamping plant in Maumee, Lott has been focusing on green industries.
"We've got great people that work for us and we want to keep them employed with meaningful work that can provide a good paycheck and help the community," Mrs. Browne said.
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