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Belfast pupils turn recycling into a tasty treat.

David McCann   Fri 15 Dec 2017

Schools across Belfast are tackling the important topic of food waste with the launch of the exciting Wheelie Big Challenge run by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, Eco-Schools and supported by Belfast City Council. With alarming figures like 7 million tonnes of food being thrown away from UK homes every year, pupils are investigating what can be done in school and at home to reduce waste.

Pupils from Botanic Primary School have discovered that recycling food at school and at home means great compost, and great compost means great veggies! They have seen the process full circle to the benefit of their school vegetable patch. They also know it is not just their vegetables that benefit, but the environment as well, as food waste going to landfill is a top contributor to greenhouse gases – 7% of all global greenhouse gas emissions, 3.3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent.

Last year saw pupils from 34 Belfast schools investigate and engage in practical actions to reduce waste, particularly food waste, in school and at home by reducing, reusing and recycling. Botanic Primary School placed food caddies in all their classrooms and managed to reduce the food in their bins by over 90%. They went on to impress the judges at the Wheelie Big Challenge competition in June and scooped first prize and £500 for their eco work.

Ruth Van Ry, Environmental Education Manager, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful said: “The Wheelie Big Challenge is an action based, fun project and competition for all schools in Belfast to think about how they could improve the environment by reducing waste and recycling more. We are delighted to be once again supported by Belfast City Council and are looking forward to seeing all the interesting ideas from schools. We invite all school pupils in Belfast to put their eco-thinking caps on and get involved”.

Alderman Tommy Sandford, Chair of the People and Communities Committee, Belfast City Council said: “We are pleased to be working with Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful again on this competition, building on the success of the past few years. This competition gives schools the opportunity to win great prizes while helping to protect the environment and reduce waste disposal costs. With research showing that around a third of food is wasted, we hope this competition will encourage pupils and their families to think about the food they waste at home and in school and do something about it. ”

The Wheelie Big Challenge is open now to all schools in Belfast City Council and will run until April. You can register your interest in the competition and receive resources and information by emailing cathy.gorman@keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org or by calling 02890 736920.

The Eco-Schools Programme is the world’s largest environmental education programme which aims to make environmental awareness and action an intrinsic part of school life. Eco-Schools work through a simple seven step process to implement behavioural change and study a range of topics, such as waste, litter and energy. By participating in projects such as the Wheelie Big Challenge schools throughout Belfast will be able to reduce their environmental impact and become more sustainable as they work towards their prestigious, internationally recognised Eco-Schools Green Flag award. To find out more please visit www.eco-schoolsni.org.