Anglo American School Leading The Way To Recycling In Moscow

In 2008, a passionate parent approached Drew Alexander, then the Director of The Anglo-American School of Moscow (AAS), in the hopes of starting a recycling program. Having recently moved to Moscow, she was concerned that a more substantial infrastructure for waste disposal did not exist, at least not like those in other countries she'd visited. Since Moscow did not offer a city service for collecting recyclables, establishing a recycling program at the school was an especially daunting imperative.

In the past, teachers at The Anglo-American School had organized small collections of recyclables to raise awareness amongst the students, but it had never been a school-wide initiative. So, with Alexander's support, the Green Committee was established in order to implement the recycling program. Additionally, AAS's Art Department began creating beautiful paintings, sculptures and signs promoting recycling for the school's common areas.

The first three years of the project challenged the Committee, presenting an overwhelming amount of labor. The recycling bins were the first obstacle. Only trash bins were available for purchase, so they had to be labeled and painted to distinguish them as special receptacles for bottles and cans. Eventually, these new recycling bins lined the hallways, cafeterias, entrances, and gymnasiums. Volunteer parents would then sort the bottles and cans. Since the community was not used to separating waste, however, many of the bins were filled with food and other non-recyclable waste at first, making the sorting process longer and more difficult. In a team effort, students would collect bags from the recycling bins while parents sorted their contents. It was a difficult process, but the determination of the parents, administration, and student body combined to make the program functional.

ab7d2aaf16b3d0ec49a214e1fc10e6c3-huge-aaFinally, during the 2011-2012 school year, the Committee ordered easily distinguishable recycling bins. The success of the program has improved vastly since then, as the students now place only recyclable bottles and cans in the bins. In addition, the Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) agreed to pay one member of the maintenance staff to continue sorting the contents of the bags. In order to recycle paper, the Committee was able to purchase the appropriate bins from new IKEA locations in Moscow. There is now a paper collection bin in every classroom and office.

The challenge to find a company to pick up the sorted recyclables was even greater than getting the community to dispose of their waste properly. The parents and administration worked diligently to compile a list of possibilities. Committee members met with the Environmental Waste Manager at IKEA to find contacts. After months of trial and error, AAS partnered with two reliable recycling companies, one for paper and one for plastic and aluminum. Both send a UHAUL type truck, called a GAZelle to pick up the materials. The plastic and aluminum truck comes once a month, and the paper and cardboard one comes every two weeks. Parents and school staff volunteer to load bags and empty the paper bins into the truck when it arrives.

8c56e5751b51845cfd81704bab1b6777-huge-aaAfter the first year, the Green Committee formed four sub-committees: Energy Usage and Consumption, Recycling, Environmental Education, and Green Products. Additionally, the Committee formed a mission statement: To reduce, reuse and recycle as many consumables in the school as possible. We aim to involve students, staff, faculty and parents as we strive to model environmental sustainability and to reduce our school’s carbon footprint. In the second year, another sub-committee was added: Parent Representatives. This sub-committee was instrumental in incorporating recycling habits into school-wide events, especially from within the PTO.

The Committee developed methods of recycling other waste, as well. Hewlett-Packard offers ink cartridge recycling. Also, although the Committee has not yet chosen a location to bring used batteries, there are now bins for battery collection in school offices. For now, the Recycling Storage Room houses the collection of used batteries, in hopes of finding a place in the near future.

After changing its name from the Green Committee to the ECO Green Committee to make its environmental purpose more evident, the Committee embarked on other projects. On April 20, 2011, The Anglo-American School of Moscow (AAS) hosted the first ECO Green Fair. In November of 2011, two high school students started an Environmental Club. The second ECO Green Fair in April 2012 received three times as much support as the first one.

The ECO Green Committee has successfully helped AAS develop a functional recycling program, and the rest of Moscow seems to be catching on. Recycling bins are beginning to pop up in many of the city's parks, and hopefully other schools will join the effort, as well.
Posted by Sharon Jaye on Aug 24, 2017 12:38 PM America/Chicago


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