Nampa School District to purchase second recycling machine
Tina Jensen reports. Video by IdahoOnYourSide.comvideo
Last fall, we brought you the story of the Nampa School District’s decision to switch to Styrofoam cafeteria trays.
The District said it would save money by saving costs on all that dishwashing for reusable trays.
Then they said they’d by a $10,000 machine to recycle all those trays.
But the program isn’t working as they had hoped.
The school district purchased a recycling machine using bond funds in order to recycle the trays and save money on dumpster fees.
But the machine had electrical problems and could not handle the number of trays coming in from the elementary schools.
They borrowed a second machine to try to keep up, according to employees who wished to stay anonymous.
Trays were being stored in the School District warehouse until Monday. Video shot by our station shows an industrial sized dumpster which the District rented to get rid of all the dirty trays that accumulated in the warehouse.
In an email obtained by our station, Sheila Keim, the Director of Nutrition Services told staff why the dumpster was rented and announced the decision to buy the second machine.
It says in part, “As you all remember we had actually started throwing some of the trays into the dumpsters at schools until we got caught up with the back log at the warehouse.”
It goes on to say they decided to purchase the new machine because “even over spring break we would not be able to process the volume that we had accumulated.”
The Nampa School District says they’re using nutrition funds from the budget to pay for the second machine. They say the second machine will be enough to keep up with the trays used by elementary students – if it runs three loads a day at four to five hours per load.
But critics point out that the school district already had two machines – one on loan – and they still couldn’t keep up.
"My impression of the program is that it doesn't work,” said Sonia Galaviz, 5th grade teacher at Endeavor Elementary. “The one redeeming factor of using the Styrofoam trays is that they were going to be recycled."
Galaviz says she has students who are bringing reusable plates from home to protest the use of the Styrofoam trays.
The School District says the cost savings comes from reduced wear and tear on dishwashers, reduced costs for chemicals and reduced staffing costs.
The recycling machines each have a price tag of approximately $10,000.
The machine also has added costs for energy, maintenance, and labor. Staffing is required to stack and store the trays from each elementary school, transport the trays from each elementary school to the school district warehouse, and feed the machines to keep them running for three loads a day.