White Bear Lake Area Schools, a public school district located in Ramsey and Washington Counties within the Minneapolis/St. Paul Metropolitan Area, serves nearly 9,000 PreK-12 students in 16 school buildings. From 2007 to 2011, the district partnered with EcoConsilium and the Counties to launch organics diversion programs in school cafeterias. Sometime later the district started using disposable lunch trays, and trash volumes increased significantly. A hauler contract with obsolete terms and conditions had been auto-renewing for many years.
In 2015 the school district renewed its partnership with EcoConsilium and Ramsey and Washington Counties to develop a district-wide best practices waste reduction, recycling and organics diversion program. We helped the district switch back to reusable lunch trays, recycle milk cartons, improve its organics diversion program, standardize its trash and recycling collection container system and launch end-of-year school clean outs capturing reusable school supplies and recyclables. We crafted an innovative Request for Proposals for trash and recycling services and oversaw the execution of a new hauler contract designed to financially reward the school district for waste diversion.
The new hauler contract features continuous optimization of hauler services, a simplified rate structure and improved hauler communications. The district’s improved waste diversion practices decreased the volume of trash generated by 25%. The savings from right-sized hauler services and the elimination of purchasing 685,900 disposable lunch trays a year more than offset the increase in labor and utility costs required to wash reusable lunch trays. During the first year, the new waste diversion program resulted in a net savings of $81,000 for the school district.