The Howard County school system has entered into a new contract with the company used by the county for its garbage and recycling efforts, saving the school system an expected $40,000 in its first year.
Under the new contract with Jenn-Kans, a small trash-disposal company based in Tuxedo, there will also be additional savings based on the amount of recycling done by the school system, which was not included in its previous contract with Waste Management.
The switch, which took effect July 1, is the result of talks between the school system and the county over the past year, according to Ken Roey, the school system's executive director of facilities.
"As we started talking more and more, we looked at opportunities to consolidate," Roey said. "We were looking for opportunities for efficiencies. Whether you're at home or at school, you are on the same contract."
Under the school system's old contract, recycling wasn't rewarded.
"It didn't mean anything if we threw it in the trash or recycled it," Roey said. "The price was the same. There was no incentive to recycle."
Under the new contract, the school system will receive return fees based on the amount of materials it recycles.
"It is a win-win situation," Roey said.
The school system will spend $506,780 for fiscal year 2010 on trash services and will likely save $40,000 under the new contract, according to Roey.
"In future years, we would expect that to increase - possibly doubling the amount due to program efforts," Roey said.
As recycling efforts increase throughout the school system, Roey predicts that there will be even more savings.
There will be little changes to the way trash is collected within the schools, according to Roey.
"The containers look a little different," Roey said. "There will be a new logo. It is still the same process."
Under the new contract, representatives from Jenn-Kans will come to the schools to better educate staff about proper recycling.
"We're increasing awareness," Roey said.
The new contract is the latest step the school system has made to be more environmentally conscious.
A year ago, the Board of Education switched to paperless meetings. All documents were put on the school system's Web site so that board members could read information on laptops during meetings.
Several schools have begun to have "waste-free" days, where students use little to no nonrecyclable products during lunch. And staff members have become more conscious about the number of copies they make, according to Roey.
In addition, the school's maintenance department has completely switched over to using "green" cleaning products, Roey said. For example, the school system now uses paints with fewer fumes and carpet that is environmentally friendly. As a result of the switch, the school system saves more than 30 tons of waste per year.
A growing number of schools have joined the green schools program, which encourages individual schools to adopt environmentally friendly standards in order to become certified.
"We're continuing to look for opportunities to partner with people to do smart things in these economic times," Roey said. "We're not going to be able to do some of those really expensive things. We're going to look at more cost-neutral things, try to spend that money in a smarter fashion, and do things that are better for the environment and smarter for our buildings."