Sustainable schools rewarded

The school Buddy Bench is made from 98 per cent recycled plastic. Picture: SUPPLIED

Two schools in the City of Casey have been rewarded for sustainability in the school by Coles with a schoolyard ‘buddy bench’ made from 98 per cent recycled plastic.

Thomas Mitchell and Oatlands Primary Schools were among 81 schools across Australia to be recognised through the Sustainability4Schools competition, which was launched to celebrate Coles’ ten years of working with soft plastics recycling organisation, REDcycle.

Thomas Mitchell Primary School in Endeavour Hills was rewarded for its extensive sustainability initiatives across the school, while Oatlands Primary School was recognised for the initiative of one dedicated student to take action on rubbish flowing into drains.

Thomas Mitchell Primary School Principal John Hurley said the school was delighted to receive a “Buddy Bench” made from soft plastics.

“Thomas Mitchell Primary School have been involved in projects to address energy, water, waste and biodiversity,” he said.

“These include, maintaining a vegie patch, and bush tucker garden, creating a recipe book with discussions on food miles, food packaging and healthy eating, Walk to School and Nude Food programs and more recently working alongside the PIEFA (Primary Industries Education Foundation Australia) to connect with farmers around Australia virtually and in house visits.”

Oatlands Primary School Principal Wes Holloway said the school was excited to be recognised for the art initiative of a then-grade one student to reduce rubbish around the school.

“In 2018, a grade one boy named William came up with the idea to paint small little blue whales next to drains so everybody can be reminded where the rubbish that goes down the drain ends up in,” he said.

“This small but ingenious idea has drastically changed how our school community thinks about rubbish and its impact on our local environment and the waterways they impact.”

When Coles’ partnership with REDcycle was established in 2011, it was the first of its kind for a supermarket in Australia and since then, Coles has placed REDcycle bins in all its supermarkets across the country for customers to drop off their soft plastic packaging.

Through its 10-year partnership with REDcycle, Coles has now facilitated the collection of more than 1.6 billion pieces of customers’ soft plastic to be recycled into furniture, children’s playground equipment, roads and even used in Coles car parks.

Coles general manager sustainability and property services, Kirsty Davis, said Coles was extremely proud of its partnership with REDcycle to drive sustainability for the next generation and wanted to reward schools for playing their part in protecting the environment.

The donation of benches supports Coles new national sustainability awareness campaign that sets out Coles Group’s “Together to Zero” ambitions towards zero waste, zero emissions and zero hunger and encourages all Australians to work “Better Together” to help ensure Australia is a better place for future generations.

The Coles Sustainability4Schools competition was launched in May 2021 and was open to all Australian primary schools. Schools were required to explain how they were committed to protecting the environment.