ASU partners on waste diversion program to assist Phoenix goals
As one of the largest school districts in Arizona, Paradise Valley Unified School District (PV Schools) generates nearly 1,500 tons of waste per year. To aid the city of Phoenix’s waste diversion goal of 40 percent by 2020 put forth by the Reimagine Phoenix initiative, the district is finding new uses for trash through a partnership with the Mayo Clinic of Arizona, the City of Phoenix and the Resource Innovation and Solutions Network (RISN) – a program operated by Arizona State University’s Sustainability Solutions Services (S3).
“We saw an opportunity to improve our sustainability profile and incorporate the program into students’ academic studies,” said James Lee, superintendent of PV Schools. “Working with RISN and Mayo Clinic, our students will have an opportunity to help plan and implement the program.”
Sustainability students from Paradise Valley schools completed an assessment on the district’s current waste strategies, finding opportunities for improvement and for educating their peers. Teams of experts from ASU and Mayo Clinic are helping the school district learn how to prevent, minimize, reuse and recycle waste.
“Teachers will gain professional development skills, students will learn about their impact on the environment and the school district will save money and resources by operating more efficiently through the curriculum and program we will jointly develop,” said Dan O’Neill, program manager for S3, a program of the Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives at ASU.
During the upcoming school year, teachers will design a waste diversion curriculum in consultation with the expert teams. In the fall, at least one elementary, junior high and high school will conduct waste diversion projects.
“We’re no longer thinking of waste as ‘trash,’” said John Trujillo, assistant director of the city’s Public Works Department. “Waste is a resource with new industry potential. RISN pulls together the necessary experts that create and implement new products and solutions from waste that will lower Phoenix’s impact on the environment while boosting the economy.”
This project with PV Schools marks the first for RISN, formerly named the Center for Resource Intelligence, which was approved with funding from the Phoenix City Council in January. RISN will also be a featured program at the June Sustainable Brands conference in San Diego.
Jason Franz, Jason.Franz@asu.edu