Newport Middle School Students Tour Recycling Facility

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After touring the Garten Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) in Salem February 26th, Newport could have some burgeoning garbologists on it’s hands. Newport Middle School’s seventh grade Earth Science classes (a total of 140 students), taught by Sean Bedell, cycled through the recycling facility to learn where Newport’s recyclables are hauled, how they’re handled, and witness the volume of those materials. When students arrived, Garten’s Development Manger Gaelen McAllistersaid, “This is the largest school group we’ve ever hosted at Garten. We’re so pleased kids are learning the impact they can have on the environment and how important their preparation (rinsing containers, sorting correctly) of recyclables is to our process.”

Prior to the field trip, students prepped by working in groups in their Earth Science classes to study recyclable materials in depth, and then present on those assigned recyclables to their fellow classmates. “This field trip was important to my students because it reinforced what we’ve been learning in class,” said Sean Bedell. “We did a big unit on chemistry and that built a good base knowledge of how plastics and other materials are made and where they come from.” Bedell went onto say, “We then started learning about the amount of waste we produce and the impact it has on society. Recycling is a big part of reducing that impact. I wanted students to see firsthand what happens to materials when they’re put in the blue recycling bin and how they’re actually recycled.

Thompson’s Sanitary hauls 3-4 semi-truckloads of co-mingled recyclables to Garten MRF every week. In 2015, Thompson’s hauled an estimated 3.6 million pounds of recycling to that facility for processing. Bedell said students seemed to observe the volume, “One thing students kept commenting on was how much material was in the recycling center and how much they (Garten MRF) process. I hope what the students take away is how important it is to recycle to keep useful materials out of the landfill and environment.”

The Lincoln County Solid Waste District and Thompson’s Sanitary Service sponsored the trip to give students a glimpse of what happens to co-mingled recyclables when they leave the curb. Mark Saelens (Lincoln County Solid Waste District Program Manager) echoed that by saying, “Major improvements in reducing, reusing and recycling our limited resources rests with future generations; therefore, anything we can do to support
education about materials management benefits all of us.”

After the recycling tour, the students then traveled to Western Oregon University for a campus tour and lunch coordinated by Chloe Ruffin, a Newport Middle school teacher, and sponsored by Gear Up Oregon. Gear Up’s goal is to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary programs. They support middle and high schools in their efforts to set high academic expectations, promote early awareness of college opportunities, and engage students in college and career planning.

If you have further questions or would like more information about the recycling tour or Thompson’s Sanitary, please call Aimee Thompson with Thompson’s Sanitary Service at 541-270-5228 or 541-265-7249. If you would like more information about GearUp Oregon and the Newport Middle School partnership, please visit their GearUp Oregon’s website at: oregongearup.org or call Chloe Ruffin at Newport Middle School at 541-265-6601.

Information and photos provided by Thompsons Sanitary