ENERGY GLOBE
Ireland

WINNER:
loreto secondary school

With the Project:
Ban the Bottle

Loreto Secondary School in Ireland implemented a project to ban the use of single use plastic bottles. An initial awareness campaign featured collected bottles and other plastic items strung together and publicly displayed. Through involvement of the development education committee and the raised awareness, a school-wide ban of single use plastic bottles was established, achieving a significant reduction in the amount of waste collected each week (initially about 2 tons per week). Eventually the news of this project reached the Clonmel Town Council and resulted in an Expo day that involved local businesses presenting sustainable products, further raising awareness on the importance of sustainability and waste avoidance.

INITIAL SITUATION

The over 540 students and teacher of the school used to bring their daily drinking water mostly in single use plastic bottles, resulting in a weekly plastic waste of around 2 tons. Also plenty of water was wasted through half-emptied bottles, and the efforts of daily collection of left-behind bottles became an enormous effort. There was very low awareness amongst the students on the issue of plastic waste and other possible waste-reduction possibilities.

SOLUTION

To address the challenge of changing attitudes, the collected waste was publicly displayed on the school campus. Additional awareness was created through social media, in-house announcements and the involvement of relevant school committees. An environmentally friendly cardboard package was introduced and the students were allowed to refill them for free at the school canteen, additionally students were encouraged to bring reusable bottles. These activities eventually resulted in a public ban of single use water bottles at the school that made it socially inacceptable to continue their use on campus grounds. The idea was further picked up from the Town Council, banning single use bottles from their meetings. An Expo day involving 13 local businesses further contributed to raise awareness on the importance of sustainability and waste avoidance.

INNOVATION

The awareness campaigns led to an official ban of plastic bottles as a school policy, which was far from common at the time of introduction. The example set at school spread to other entities including the Town Council members. The involvement of local businesses further contributed to increase the focus on sustainability in the local supply chain.

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