Keen Resource Smart Schools–Inspiring others to reduce waste

In 2023 three remarkable Yarra Ranges schools were finalists in the Resource Smart School awards by Sustainability Victoria with two schools winning. All schools have an inspiring story and include exceptional sustainability leaders who are progressively taking steps to educate their school community to reduce waste to landfill.

The Resource Smart Schools program recognises and rewards schools through Sustainability Certification. Stars are obtained through completion of modules and meeting benchmarks for resource use and are valid for four years.

Three highlighted Resource Smart Schools (2023) ‘made a waste reduction difference’ in their community and have actively ‘lead by example to reduce waste and stop valuable material going to landfill.’ Monbulk Primary and Lilydale Heights College won 2023 awards with a passion to succeed and lead future generations to ‘reduce waste going to landfill’. Mount Lilydale Mercy College were finalists in several categories in both 2022 and 2023.


Monbulk Primary School

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Monbulk Primary school winner, Ms Danielle Lamport is responsible for the school’s 5-star certification. Under her guidance student leaders have introduced a rubbish-free lunch policy, created a resource list of non-packaged snacks for parents and actively worked with local businesses to source ‘recycling friendly’ lunchboxes with separate compartments. Under the sustainability leadership of Danielle, Monbulk Primary School have completed their waste module and are actively working on their school’s circular economy.

“Now that we are composting and recycling, we have seen a big reduction in the amount and type of waste going to landfill. We have also seen a reduction in the size of the skip used by our school and the number of times its collected. Initially, each classroom had a 25L rubbish bin in which everything went. Now we have 10L waste bins which are repurposed ice cream tubs from a local restaurant, and which are never full, as well as recycling and compost bins, with the later going to our worm farm, chickens, and veggie garden. It is wonderful to see and hear students talking about where their classroom waste should go and for them to be able to articulate why,” Danielle said.

We asked Danielle “What motivates your school to ‘make a change’ for the reduction of waste to landfill?”

Danielle added, “Initially it was a monetary motivation. We wanted to reduce the size of our skip and the number of times it was collected so we could use the savings on more desirable resources for the students. Becoming aware of what happens to our rubbish after it’s hauled away, really surprised our students. The biggest impact came when students learnt how long it takes for common school items to break down once in landfill. This was motivation enough for students to want to make a change and for us to facilitate that.”


Mount Lilydale Mercy College

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Mount Lilydale Mercy College another remarkable school in our region, has also completed their waste module and is on its way to becoming another 5-star school. They are dedicated to student curiosity and action for sustainability lead projects. The school’s Outdoor learning Space Master Plan was developed by students who received advice from Wurundjeri Elders to rehabilitate a nearby area for biodiversity and learning purposes. Finalist Resource Smart School leader, Mr Andrew Feher agrees, “waste management is an ongoing concern and is inspiring the new generation to create one streamlined and unified waste capture system throughout the whole school.”

“The option to capture organic waste has been introduced to students but requires ongoing management. The greatest recent win has been for senior management to fully embrace the issues re waste at the college. A new canteen operator will herald renewed conversations regarding food selections, leftovers, waste disposal streams and food packaging. Discussions with cleaning contractors are also ongoing regarding separation of waste to ensure landfill and recycling streams are in fact correctly utilised.” Andrew said.

“As educators we hold a privileged position in being able to shape how students will and can act in an environmentally sensitive way. As a college we have been actively monitoring our waste streams, landfill numbers have been reducing and the number of skips removed to assist in reducing costs. Building materials are now not added to these bins and are now being recycled. As a college of over 1500 students that generates substantial amounts of E-waste, we use efficient waste recycling programs and ensure batteries are also recycled to ensure they do not end up in landfill sites.” Andrew remarked. 


Lilydale Heights College

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Lilydale Heights College students teamed up to perform 2023 resource audits covering litter, ocean plastic waste, biodiversity, and general waste. The year 7 maths students were responsible for litter, year 9 Humanities students cared for biodiversity, and year 10 Sustainable Futures students looked after waste. Lilydale Heights College were 2023 Secondary School Winners for Curriculum Leadership incorporating environmental awareness and responsibility across all levels. Lilydale Heights College teacher Ms Shannon Sargeant says that ‘waste is an ongoing concern and what we do with it will impact the longevity of our oceans, lands, and air to sustain life. Shannon is proud of Lilydale Heights College recycling efforts and collaborates with TerraCycle to collect recyclable items that cannot be disposed into curb side recycling bins including a new blister pack initiative. “Finding an environmentally friendly way to recycle medical blister packaging, is a creative and innovative student lead project for correct disposal of waste. The school hopes sorting this waste appropriately will reduce unnecessary waste going to landfill.” Shannon remarked.

To find out more about the 2023 Resource Smart Schools Program and our Yarra Ranges School Winners, visit ResourceSmart Schools Awards – 2023 Winners and Finalists | Sustainability Victoria