Charnwood-Dunlop students leading the way to a more sustainable future 

Last year students and staff at Charnwood-Dunlop School started looking at ways to improve and rejuvenate the school recycling system. Before that the school had recycled paper and cardboard only, but after taking a closer look at the waste generated at the school it was clear that many juice boxes were being sent to landfill. 

Teacher Lisa Williams realised there was an opportunity to improve recycling practices by taking the juice boxes to a nearby ACT Container Deposit Scheme (CDS) return point, generating a 10c refund for each juice box.  

‘The Charnwood deposit point is close enough that we can walk down with students, and they become part of the whole recycling process,’ Lisa says. A visit to the return point is made each week with refunds from the recycled juice boxes credited to their school account.  

‘So far we have raised over $250 that can be put towards other sustainability initiatives around our school,’ says Lisa.  

Students in years 3 and 4 can join a ‘Sustainability Squad’ with part of their role being to encourage other classes within the school to recycle.  

‘An important job of the Sustainability Squad is to check class recycling bins, including mixed recycling, soft plastics, used pens and textas and the dedicated ACT CDS bin, and report back to each class on how they are going with their recycling,’ says Lisa. ‘This provides students and teachers with constructive feedback to improve the school’s recycling practices.’   

‘Students in the Sustainability Squad get really excited to see that their school is making a difference to the environment,’ says Lisa. ‘They come back from their duties saying things like “Kindergarten has done a really good job! All the juice boxes were in the right bin!”’ 

Since starting this recycling, 2,561 containers have been returned, including some from teachers who return their household containers and allocate the funds towards the school account. 

Charnwood-Dunlop has also introduced a range of additional environmental initiatives, including recycling used pens and soft plastics. In 2021 the school was recognised for its commitment to sustainability and awarded the ACT Sustainability Leadership Award at the Actsmart Awards.  

‘The next step for our school is to introduce nude food days to reduce plastic waste, and we’d love to get our veggie patch up and running,’ says Lisa. 

Interested in getting your school involved? Find out more here.

Free preschool and primary school resources now available.

The ACT CDS is a partnership between the ACT Government, scheme coordinator Exchange for Change and network operator Return-It.