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10 September, 2021

Waste warriors to stamp out bullies

GORDONVALE State School has been rewarded for sustainability in the school by Coles with a schoolyard ‘buddy bench’ made from 98% recycled plastic.

By Peter McCullagh

A ‘buddy bench’ is a place where students can go if they are feeling low, or lonely, as a signal to others they need someone to play with. The Buddy seat has played an important role in students developing a feeling of belonging and being connected in their school environment.

Gordonvale was one of 81 primary schools across Australia to be recognised through the Sustainability4Schools competition, which was launched to celebrate Coles’ ten years of working with soft plastics recycling organisation, REDcycle.

Principal Lloyd Perkins said students and staff were thrilled to be recognised for its whole community approach to

“Our school has2 been engaged in several projects to help protect the environment both within the school and in the local community,” he said.

“Our students have been involved in the Restoration of O’Leary’s Creek Project, The Permaculture Partnerships Project and prior to COVID, students participated in the annual Future Leaders Eco- Challenge conducted by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority for Reef Guardian Schools.”

“Through the Gifted Global Green Enrichment program conducted by the Holloways Beach Environmental Education Centre, students aim to assist businesses in the Gordonvale community to reduce their ecological footprint by providing advice on simple changes that can be made benefiting both the environment and the business.”

When Coles’ partnership with REDcycle was established in 2011, it was the first of its kind for a supermarket in Australia and since then, Coles has placed REDcycle bins in all its supermarkets across the country for customers to drop off their soft plastic packaging.

Through its 10-year partnership with REDcycle, Coles has now facilitated the collection of more than 1.6 billion pieces of customers’ soft plastic to be recycled into furniture, children’s playground equipment, roads and even used in Coles car parks.

REDcycle founder Elizabeth Kasell said she had witnessed a steady increase in the number of primary schools adopting new sustainability programs in the classroom and school yard and Coles’ Sustainability4Schools competition was a great way to encourage and reward students.

“We started REDcycle by hiring a trailer to collect plastic bags at schools in Melbourne and deliver them to local manufacturer Replas which would recycle it to into useful products,” she said.

“A decade later, it’s encouraging to see schools are initiating their own recycling programs and being rewarded by Coles for their sustainability in the school yard.”

The donation of benches supports Coles new national sustainability awareness campaign that sets out Coles Group’s “Together to Zero” ambitions towards zero waste, zero emissions and zero hunger and encourages all Australians to work “Better Together” to help ensure Australia is a better place for future generations.

The Coles Sustainability4Schools competition was launched in May 2021 and was open to all Australian primary schools.   Schools were required to explain how they were committed to protecting the environment.

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