Shawnee Mission School district makes changes to recycling policy now that they must pay for it

MERRIAM, Kan. -- What used to be free will now cost one local school district thousands of dollars. So, to help control costs, they’re asking for help.

Up until February, the Shawnee Mission School District didn’t pay for recycling – their trash hauler took it away for free. But not anymore – so to reduce this extra cost to their budget – they are making changes.

They are implementing a program in every school for aimed at kids at lunch to taking what they want and eating what they take. They also want kids to take three of the five food groups instead of one of everything.

The school district says they've noticed kids aren’t throwing away as much uneaten food and drink as they did in the past. The reduction in trash will ultimately save the district money.

Also, over the past ten years, they have slowly introduced sorting in school cafeterias – where after lunch, students put their trash in one bin, compost in another and recyclable materials in yet another. Thanks to sorting at one school last week, they found only ten percent of lunch waste was actual trash – the rest was composted or recycled.

Shawnee Mission Schools also wants the community to stop bringing their recyclables to the school’s bins since it now costs the district money. They ask people to put recyclables in their own containers, instead.

FOX4's Matt Stewart says he reached out to some other school districts about recycling and found most of them are also charged for recycling - though North Kansas City said some of their schools don’t pay for it.

Overall, districts across the metro are asking people not to bring their recycling to the schools since they are charged by the yard - it ends up costing them more money to get it all hauled it away.

"It’s the right thing to do, we’re committed even though we’re being charge for recycling now, what used to generate an income or was a free service, because we now have to pay for it, we are committed to recycling and we are not going to change course," sustainability coordinator Joan Leavens said. "We will pay for the service."