The Coca-Cola Co., Nestlé Waters North America, the PepsiCo Foundation and the Walmart Foundation have partnered to fund an integrated recycling education and awareness initiative for the 10,000 school students affected by the Flint, Mich., water crisis, led by national nonprofit Keep America Beautiful and its local, affiliate Keep Genesee County Beautiful (KGCB).
In January 2016, the four companies announced they would provide up to 6.5 million bottles of safe and clean drinking water to Flint school students. From the outset of the program, they have been providing for the storage and delivery of the bottled water, as well as the transporting of the empty water bottles for recycling.
The new initiative provides funding for a multi-tiered educational approach aimed at increasing the number of plastic bottles that are recycled within school grounds as well as create opportunities to provide students, teachers and staff with the knowledge and the passion to recycle at home, at school and on-the-go.
“Keep America Beautiful is thrilled to receive broad support from a host of partners in our efforts to educate, motivate and activate Flint’s students, teachers and the broader school community to properly recycle the tremendous amount of material that is being generated,” Brenda Pulley, senior vice president, recycling, Keep America Beautiful, said in a statement. “This is a great opportunity for us to work closely with Keep Genesee County Beautiful to make a meaningful difference in improving recycling throughout Flint and to teach the next generation of environmental stewards the benefits of recycling and how to recycle right.”
The K-12 school-based program objectives are to:
- Provide outreach, tools, resources and activities to educate, motivate and activate students, staff and teachers to recycle more and recycle right;
- Organize, support and share resources with recycling champions at each school to support day-to-day recycling efforts;
- Share best practices and support school personnel responsible for collecting and consolidating recycling at each school on proper recycling bin placement, signage and collection of the recyclables; and
- Track and report the amount of recyclables being collected by the schools with the goal of achieving a 25 percent increase in recycling.
Keep America Beautiful is working in tandem with KGCB to tailor the recycling educational lesson plans, tools and activities for Flint’s students, while ongoing recycling education and program implementation is being conducted by KGCB staff and volunteers. Resources include take-home materials in an effort to bring the school education and experience home, reaching families in their residences to also enhance curbside recycling participation.
“Since this crisis began, Keep Genesee County Beautiful has been the ‘go-to’ recycling resource for the Flint community. We help Flint residents cope with the water crisis by raising awareness and educating residents about the benefits of recycling, by signing up residents for curbside recycling and being a pickup point for recycling bins,” said Karen West, Program Director/Lead Consultant, KGCB. “We are incredibly grateful for this financial support and appreciate the opportunity to work with Keep America Beautiful and the students and staff of Flint schools to encourage, educate and engage the community in recycling.”