We would like to share success stories with our members and followers, and NRC is pleased to highlight our member Lincoln Public Schools Sustainability Department.
Tell us about your organization.
Lincoln Public Schools serves over 42,000 students, more than 8,000 employees, and manages 70 facilities with over 8,000,000 square feet of space. The LPS Sustainability journey started in the early 1990s with the initiation of a recycling program at a handful of buildings. Those efforts grew to be a district wide recycling program by 2002. In 2014 interests expanded beyond recycling to include composting and other sustainability topics. By 2019 LPS had adopted a compost program in all school cafeterias as well as passed a sustainability policy that stated a commitment to a district wide culture of sustainability. Now, the LPS Sustainability department supports a variety of interests including waste diversion, alternative transportation, energy efficiency, outdoor learning, and more.
What are your sustainability goals and initiatives?
LPS Sustainability aims to promote green efforts throughout the district and the community by implementing environmentally responsible practices in LPS facilities and providing educational opportunities for future environmental stewards. When the recycling program began nearly 30 years ago, a 25% waste diversion rate goal was set. Currently, with district wide composting and recycling, LPS strives for a 50% diversion rate or higher. Additionally, any construction projects managed by the district are required to have an 80% diversion rate goal. Initiatives that support LPS waste diversion goals include container resets and school-wide composting. Container resets involve removing oversized, excess containers from throughout a building and resetting each space to have one landfill and one recycling bin side-by-side and near the door. Not only does this process help custodial teams save time when managing waste, it also allows our team to reevaluate the waste needs of a building and label all bins to help educate on the LPS recycling categories. School-wide composting also requires resetting and redesigning waste stations within a school. Buildings that participate in the school-wide compost initiative have designated compost bins in addition to the landfill and recycling bin in their classroom. As more buildings adopt the school-wide composting program, LPS makes progress towards the long term vision of becoming a zero waste district.