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GCPS Responds to Questions Regarding the Use and Disposal of Lunch Trays

Following a mother's concern about Styrofoam trays at Gwinnett County Public Schools, officials said the system recently lost its recycling partner but are looking at alternatives.

Gwinnett County school officials are responding to a mother's petition for the district to stop its use of Styrofoam trays.

Last week, Lilburn-Mountain Park Patch ran an article featuring Beth Remmes, the mother of two who began the Change.org petition.

Now, Gwinnett County Public Schools is responding. In an email response sent from Jorge Quintana, a spokesman, the district had this to say:

"As an environmentally responsible organization, Gwinnett County Public Schools has been researching options to improve the current use and disposal of our school lunch trays.

"Unfortunately, the school district was recently forced to stop recycling its lunch trays when its recycling partner went out of business due to the state of the economy.

"In fact, GCPS was the first school district in Georgia to start recycling lunch trays system-wide, an initiative that earned Gwinnett County Public Schools the "Outstanding K-12 School Program Award" from the National Recycling Coalition.

"As part of our continuous improvement efforts, our district is always communicating with other large districts from throughout the nation and private corporations researching their best practices.The most cost-effective and environmentally-friendly alternative the district has found so far would come at an increased cost of $800,000 annually.

"The district is proud of the fact that its School Nutrition Program is self-funded, meaning it is funded by cafeteria sales and does not pull scarce taxpayer dollars from the classroom. While the current tray system is a safe, effective option, the school system will continue to research options to improve lunchroom tray disposal.

"Not only is GCPS hoping to find an alternative that will help the district continue being kind to mother nature, but one that the district also will be able to financially sustain."

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