Ridgway Record

Study shows growth in K-12 students’ recycling knowledge


HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvan­ia Department of Environmen­tal Protection (DEP) and the Profession­al Recyclers of Pennsylvan­ia (PROP) collaborat­ed on a School Recycling Study Survey that shows that Pennsylvan­ia K-12 students have increased their knowledge and awareness of recycling over the past fiscal year.

“Students are our future, and it is important to see that they are increasing their awareness around recycling. It is incredible that these schools made a commitment to Pennsylvan­ia’s present and future,” Acting DEP Secretary Richard Negrin said.

From July 2021 through June 2022, PROP (with funding from DEP) coordinate­d the study. This is the second year of the study, which gauges understand­ing of recycling among students and staff. Schools were asked to complete a brief survey, providing details on their current recycling programs and practices. The survey was sent to 3,770 public and private schools in Pennsylvan­ia.

Of the schools surveyed, 86.6% recycle. Also, 43.5% of the schools surveyed have a recycling awareness program.

In the 2020-2021 fiscal year, the survey was sent to 2,713 schools with 199 responding. In the 20202021 fiscal year, 81.4% of schools responded that they have a recycling program.

Some of the questions in the survey include: Does the school recycle? Does your school have a recycling awareness program? Is cost a barrier?

“Student awareness of recycling is a critical step in making sure these students continue to recycle through adulthood,” said PROP Executive Director Jennifer Summers. “Recycling is a crossgener­ational effort, and it is imperative that we know how our students are faring with their recycling knowledge.”

The summary report also details ways to increase awareness and how schools respond to waste with other methods, like composting. PROP is instrument­al in driving student awareness and hosts a yearly poster contest for students.

“Just as our schools nurture and preserve their students’ futures, so too must our communitie­s nurture and preserve the future of our environmen­t,” said Acting Secretary of the Pennsylvan­ia Department of Education Dr. Khalid N. Mumin. “By introducin­g learners to the importance of recycling, that knowledge can spread, and young minds can be empowered by sharing this critical best practice with their friends, families, and neighbors.”

The next steps include working with individual coordinato­rs with results from their counties and another survey. Another survey will be used to collect more detail about the types of education and training that is needed for the schools. The outcomes of the surveys will result in the creation of tools and resources for schools and school business officials, including web resources.

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