Graphic by Will Tulp
As SMSD transitions into a new partnership with Republic Services, 31 elementary schools, and two middle schools have been left without recycling dumpsters, forcing recyclable material into the trash.
Republic Services, the trash service provider for SMSD since 2014, is working to deliver new recycling dumpsters to all schools within the next few weeks. has been providing trash hauling service since 2014, after ending their partnership with Waste Corporation of America. the trash as a result. Currently, all five area high schools, three middle schools, and two elementary schools have received new recycling dumpsters.
The SMSD Board of Education switched from Waste Corporation of America, its previous recycling provider, due to inconsistency according to Joan Leavens, SMSD Coordinator of Sustainability and Community Engagement. Some buildings were having recycling picked up on a regular basis while for others it was irregular and some schools did not receive service at all, Leavens said.
“Because our recycling service has been intermittent during the past six months or so, the Shawnee Mission School District is transitioning to a new recycling partner in order to provide consistency in our recycling service,” Leavens said.
East has received one new dumpster and will receive another sometime in the next several weeks. To ensure the material would be recycled and not just sent to a landfill, some schools saved their recycled material until the new bins arrive.
The new bins will be picked up twice a week according to East Building Manager Dale Clark, but until then schools will have a build up recyclable material, such as papers and plastics, in the trash.
“I think it’s terrible, and that this kind of oversight shouldn’t be a possibility at all,” Junior Camille Vandergriff said. “I believe that even if this problem seems insignificant, it’ll make quite a bit of an impact in our landfills because of our school containing so many people, together creating a crazy amount of trash.”
Though Vandergriff thinks the lack of recycling services for schools is a major error on the part of the district, SMSD is excited to have the new partnership with Republic, according to Leavens. They believe the implementation of Republic Services as the recycling partner will be beneficial for the school system due to the responsiveness and reliability of its work picking up trash in the past.
In previous years, the district has made a point in watching the amount of trash the schools are producing. SMSD has consistently diverted 80% of waste produced in school cafeterias and compost it back into school gardens or new materials instead of going into landfills.
“We are excited to have this new partnership in place as we complete implementation of cafeteria recycling and composting in all schools and administrative centers in Shawnee Mission this spring,” Leavens said.