Livermore High School has a long tradition of establishing creative systems to reduce waste, improve recycling and reuse materials. The school has won multiple grants to install indoor and outdoor recycling stations throughout the campus including hard to serve areas like the football stadium and gym. Livermore is the recipient of a Green California Partnership Career Academy grant to establish a green career pathway program for students and is working to expand participation in green practices by teachers, students and community members.
A few years ago, Livermore High School science teacher Stephen Bailey began organizing battery recycling on campus to keep toxic metals out of the landfill. Soon, he was carting over 200 pounds of batteries per year to the local transfer station.
Troubled by this wasteful practice, Mr. Bailey applied for an Altamont Education Advisory Board grant to purchase rechargeable batteries for the science department.
"First, we polled the teachers to find out what types of batteries were in use, then students and I investigated which brand of battery performed best. Our tests of Eneloop, Duracell, and Tenergy batteries had Eneloop winning out for extended battery life."
"Next we set up our system. Basically, teachers can bring in batteries from their class and exchange them with me for rechargeable batteries. If they bring in a disposable battery, we recycle it and provide the teacher with a fully charged replacement."
Although some teachers reported that rechargeable batteries don't last as long as a disposeable battery, they are quite satisfied with the fact that they are able to get immediate replacement of batteries on campus.
As Science Department chair, Mr. Bailey processes all purchase requisitions for the department. Since the implementation of the rechargeable battery program, no disposable batteries have been purchased by his department.
After establishing this successful program in the science department, Mr. Bailey and his students reached out to other high-battery use classes such as digital photo. The digital photo classes are thrilled to no longer have the recuring expense of specialty batteries, and Mr. Bailey is thrilled about the reduction of troublesome disposable lithium batteries.
Currently, students in AP Environmental Science are working to develop a campus-wide system for rechargable battery use. They will be polling teachers, ordering batteries and chargers, and developing a system to ensure that expensive rechargeable batteries stay on campus.
"We want to strategically place simple and easily accessible recycling stations in both the main and auxillary gyms. Our goal is to maximize the amount of plastic and aluminum recycled."
Livermore High School won a $2800 grant from the Altamont Education Advisory Board to expand on-campus recycling opportunities to the main and auxiliary gyms. The grant will fund the construction of specialized recycling stations to meet the needs of one of the most used areas of campus.
The gym is used by both the school and neighborhood communities to host games, practices, dances, and other special large-crowd events that frequently produce high quantities of recyclable bottles and cans.
Senior student Brooke Betts wrote the winning grant application and shared her thoughts about the application process in an online interview with schools.stopwaste.org:
How & when did you notice the need for recycling stations in the gym?
Well the rest of our campus has already acquired recycling stations, due to Mr. Bailey's persistent hard work. However as a basketball player I use the gym for at least three quarters of the school year as well as most of the summer. I noticed that the gym only had one small bin that always seemed to be overflowing with bottles and cans. I figured if the rest of the school has recycling stations that the gym deserves one too.
A wide range of people will be involved in the design and construction of the bins. Could you briefly describe their roles?
I am working with other students and teachers to figure out the features and design that will be appropriate for the gymnasium. We’ll then hand off our ideas to Mr. Mike Waltz and his Green Engineering Academy , a club on LHS campus. They will decide upon the materials the station will be made out of and all other technical elements. Once the design is final and approved by the school, we will send off the product design to Mr. Porter of the ROP class to build the actual recycling station.
What special features will the bins have?
The bins will be a double compartment station, one compartment for aluminum and one for plastics. The design will have signs and pictures on the front to attract attention and a "pro recycling" message. Each compartment will have locks to prevent other students and citizens from stealing the recyclables which has been a serious problem on LHS campus (however inside a locked gym the problem will be much less severe.) The most important element of the design is that the station will be on wheels. Because of the various events and setting the gym is used for, the station must be easily movable and not damage the new gym floor.
Thanks to the generous donations of staff and the public, no rx LHS is able to keep printer cartridges out of our landfill.
Livermore High reuses these cartridges by taking an empty to Cartridge World, buy and returning with a full cartridge. The school also takes these to OfficeMax, where teachers can get credits toward school supplies.
In the current school funding environment, this is an important way to keep costs down, as well as doing the right thing: Re-use.
Livermore High School and Waste Management have partnered in an agreement to help the school redeem CRV materials such as bottles and cans for cash. Students collect the CRV materials on campus and haul them to the recyling dumpster. Students then wheel the dumpster out for pick-up by Waste Management who hauls it to the recyling center on Old First Street, which writes out a check to the school.
Within a week or so a check arrives for the student club that hauled the recycled materials from the recycle stations to the dumpsters. Without students doing the work, none of this would happen. The check is usually between $110 and $180 dollars for the dumpster of plastic or aluminum. LHS recycles around twenty dumpster-loads a year. That is a large amount of material that will not go to the landfill. And, it is a huge quantity that the school's custodians do not have to carry around and deal with.
Livermore High School investigated styles of recycle stations to make it as easy as possible to separate recycle-able plastic and aluminum from material that will end up in the land fill.
In the stadium, athletes are on the move and toss materials into cans from a distance. For this reason, a station was sought with clear instructions and two big openings. The school's bin vendor, Midpoint Recycling Solutions, suggested using a design started by the Maryland football team. This way athletes can toss materials into clearly marked containers and shoot a basket at the same time.