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School Lunch Milk Cartons Recycled in Masuda City 2002-01-05

The Board of Education of Masuda City, Shimane Prefecture in western Japan, has launched a project to recycle milk cartons from school lunches at elementary and junior high schools in the city. The project, started in September 2004, aims to raise schoolchildren's awareness about the need to establish a recycling-based society.

A total of 4,700 two-hundred-cc milk cartons are consumed every week (Monday to Friday) at the 27 elementary and junior high schools in the city. Before the recycling project began, these cartons were collected by the dairies for incineration. However, Shimane prefecture issued a notice calling for a halt to milk carton collection by dairies, so the board decided to embark on this project. In its six elementary schools having 200 or more students, forth, fifth and sixth graders have started recycling. In its 10 junior high schools and 11 elementary schools having fewer than 200 students, all students have been recycling. The board plans to extend the project to all students in all 27 schools in fiscal 2005.

Students rinse, cut open and dry the used cartons. Each school then bundles the cartons in the school kitchen. They are sent to a used-paper collecting wholesaler in Hiroshima Prefecture after going through intermediate treatment by a private recycler. Paper manufacturers in Ehime Prefecture or Tokushima Prefecture, western Japan, recycle the cartons into toilet paper.

When the project started, the students learned why they should collect used milk cartons and how they are recycled. Now the students seem to be pleased to participate in the activity.

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