BY BRIAN MOORE
PUPILS of Skibbereen Community College are determined to make their school single-use plastic-free by 2019.
Third and fifth year students came together to highlight a lack of recycling that was taking place at the school and set about raising awareness among their fellow students and teachers.
Jemma Barrett, student said: ‘There was zero recycling happening at the school even thought we thought that the cups we use for teas and coffee were recyclable, it turns out that they are not. When we started our recycling drive we spoke to the staff in the canteen and they were also unaware that the cups were not being recycled but were, in fact just, collected with the rest of the rubbish and incinerated.’
The students noticed that even though the cups have a recycling symbol on them they could not be recycled in this country.
‘There are only two plants in Europe that can recycle these cups,’ fellow student Saoi O’Connor said. ‘The outer layer of film has be removed before the cups can be recycled and so because there are no companies here doing that, all our cups are just being dumped.’
The students found that over 200 cups per day were being used, and decided to collect as many cups as they could, wash and remove them from the weekly rubbish.
Jemma added: ‘We decided to use the clean cups to highlight the waste we, as a school, are creating every day. So we decided to make a sculpture of the schools initials, SCS, using the cups.’
However, this is just the start with plans in place to make the school a single-use plastic-free environment by 2019.
Saoi explained: ‘We have designed reusable tea and coffee mugs with the school logo on them. The students are buying these, at €5 each, and using them which, is great but we want to take this further and the plan is to do away with the disposable cups and for everybody to use not only reusable mugs for hot drinks but to also have their own reusable water bottles that they can refill at the water fountains throughout the school.’
To make this campaign a reality and a success, the students are planning to ensure that a designated area is set up to allow the pupils to wash their reusable mugs and water bottles.
‘We also want to have filters attached to all the water fountains so that we can easily fill the water bottles,’ Jemma said. ‘And we also want to ensure that all the new first-year in 2019 will each receive a disposable mug and water bottle on the day that they start to ensure that the school develops a strong recycling culture.’