Hillsborough County (FL) Public Schools has replaced the foam meal trays it had been using in its school cafeterias with paper trays, adding to its efforts to protect and preserve the environment.
The district’s Student Nutrition Services (SNS) staff designed trays and commissioned Southern Champion Tray, LP, to manufacture them. They created the tray using SNS specifications and direction for a design that is appealing and functional, yet cost effective. Other goals in designing the paper trays were to create a product that is recyclable, biodegradable, and made of a renewable resource.
“We are pleased to move beyond the conventional 5-compartment foam trays to a design that is attractive, kid-friendly, and green,” says SNS General Manager Mary Kate Harrison.
Hillsborough’s schools use an average of 1.6 million trays a month. At that rate of usage, by converting to the paper trays, the district will remove an estimated 483,000 pounds and 289,000 cubic feet of non-biodegradable foam from the Tampa Bay area waste stream each year.
In July, the Hillsborough County School Board approved a contract to begin a single stream recycling program. It began in October with 64 pilot schools and sites, and all district facilities are now participating in the program.