An Alternative for School Trays


Written by: Riley Wilson, Reporter

If over 2,400 students attend a school somewhere in the USD 458 Basehor-Linwood school district, then at least 1,000 styrofoam trays are being thrown away each weekday. This can add up to a multitude of waste, but there is a way of replacing them without having to take all the measures necessary for recycling. Instead of styrofoam trays, schools in the Basehor-Linwood community can start implementing trays made from sugarcane into the lunchroom. 

These composable containers, or trays, don’t need to go to a composting facility to decompose; they do it on their own in a matter of months. Using sugarcane trays as an alternative would decrease the workload of dirty dishes for food service employees in the lunchroom, which uses a lot of water and manpower. Not only this, but sugarcane trays take 68% less energy to create than regular styrofoam containers according to a sugarcane tray provider, Green Paper Products.

The main reason school districts around the country are still using styrofoam plates is mostly just because of the convenience of them. It is a simple, everyday habit for students to eat food and promptly throw it away without a second thought. 

If the school district were to try another option, like recycling, their efforts may be useless. According to National Geographic, 90% of what people recycle ends up going to a landfill. Students can continue the habit of throwing away a tray when they are finished, like they usually do, but teachers and students alike will know that they are making a positive impact on the environment, without really having to do much at all.

An Innovation Academy team, including sophomore Elizabeth Cook and I, are starting a project to resolve this issue by using sugarcane containers. This group is building upon the efforts of another team from the first semester of the 2019-2020 school year. The team plans on starting with the to-go bar in the high school. Showing how this alternative can in fact work, even in just a small area of the school, may entice the school administration to push it into the lunchroom and, at some point, possibly other schools as well.