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​Zero Waste Documentation


We're trying to hold true to our project and keep to zero waste. With that in mind, our students are sharing their questions on our padlets (earlier page) and some of their weekly learnings and thoughts by email.


Gr. 5/6 students, we've added a sample letter at the bottom for those of you who are starting to write letters to companies.


Here's the collaborative response we sent in as feedback to the proposed Bill 151


Sent Feb 8, 2016


We have many questions and concerns about Bill 151.
The Bill mentions that you will use tools and actions to encourage producers to reduce waste - specifically what  tools will you use and what actions  will you take?
We think an eco tax on poor  packaging should be used - just like the green dot system in Europe.
It mentioned improved recycling (which we know is the THIRD r) - how will you recycle numbers 7-93?  We understand that you're looking for new markets. We  have learned that China is collecting #7. Why can't we?
Do you plan to try and make companies use biodegradable packaging. We know that Frito Lay tried this with Sun Chips but gave up.


We know you are improving organics collection - how will you ensure that  all apartments, condos, schools and businesses get green bins?


We understand that 47% of diversion is from households but only 25% overall. Who's making all the waste?


Is there a year in mind to achieve zero  waste?


We understand that you want to create zero green house gas emissions. Does this mean that you will no longer allow incineration of garbage to take place? We're not sure but we think green house gases are released during the incineration process.


We appreciate that you will encourage the 3 Rs with Reduce being #1. We think you should make #1 Rethink.


Thanks for the opportunity to share our thoughts on Bill 151.


The Gr. 5/6 class St. Sylvester School


 Aiden's Zero Waste Letter


Dear Black Diamond Cheese, 
 Hi my name is Aiden and I am in the Gr.5/6 class at St.Sylvester school in Toronto, Ontario. We are currently doing a year round project on zero waste to find out if Zero Waste is possible. 
I am writing to you because I have a few questions and concerns about your packaging on your string cheese. Personally I love the string cheese and eat lots of it too.
Your string cheese packaging causes a lot of garbage because inside each big plastic bag are individually wrapped cheese sticks. In a lifetime, the average North American will throw away 600 times his or her adult weight in garbage. A 68-kilogram adult will leave a legacy of 40,825 kilograms of trash (Natural Resources Canada). Food being wrapped individually probably adds a significant amount to this and makes this amount a lot higher than it should be.
 I am proposing to you that the cheese sticks are wrapped together rather than individually. My understanding is that Bill 151 is going to charge companies for how much packaging they use. It will cost you less if you use less packaging.
Please take a look at our school website that explains how we’ve been learning about this topic.
We are hoping to have someone come into our class to speak about packaging because our teacher and principal keep saying we need to know both sides of the issue. Would you please come and visit us? 
We would appreciate this greatly.
Aiden from the Gr. 5/6 class at St.Sylvester School


Subject: Rathika's Answer
5 Things I've Learned 
1. Methane and Carbon Dioxide make up 90% - 98% of landfill gas.The other 2% - 10% is nitrogen, ammonia, sulfides and other various gases.
2. 9 tons of litter is put in the ocean.
3. A Landfill can produce gas for more than 50 years.
4. Liquids can be burned in an incinerator.
5. Aluminum Foil is 100% recyclable. Many Recycling Centers don't often accept Aluminum Foil, but you can recycle aluminum cans. The reason is the foil will usually get dirtier than a can.
Where I Want To Go With This
Maybe we can involve other schools with being GREEN! Something like a challenge, "The Cleanest School in Toronto." People get competitive and might actually try to be a green school. We should try to decrease garbage that people are using more of, or the least, which will probably be easier. But, let's first focus on our school and our families to make a difference in our community, then go to different schools, cities, countries and etc. We should always start small when it comes to a ugly and crucial crisis. 
An example email to send about packaging to a company
Hi, My name is Roy Fernandes. I'm the principal at St. Sylvester school in Toronto. Our Gr. 5/6 class is doing a zero waste project. I’m attaching our school website that shows how we started the work on the project this year.

Please scroll through to get a sense for some of our work. (we just began the project on Jan 7)

The last padlet on the page – burning questions gives you a sense for what students are currently thinking about after a week and a bit into the project.

One big question is whether chip companies can make biodegradable packaging for their chips. Ruffles is the favourite brand of the class but we're conflicted that the bag needs to go in the garbage. We're really  trying to teach the kids to see issues from all sides so we would very much welcome a chance to have a representative come in and explain the business side. Will look forward to hearing from you soon.

Emails to government and writers of articles found online
Came across your article online and was hoping you might be able to help us with a school project explained below. From  what I can tell from talking to Frito Lay, they discontinued the bag owing to the larger cost of producing the bag.
From: Fernandes, Roy (St Sylvester)
Sent: Sunday, February 7, 2016 11:43 AM
To: '' <>
Cc: 'Barb Stoner' <>
Subject: FW: Zero waste project - St. Sylvester has more questions
Hi Shari,
My name is Roy Fernandes. I’m the principal at St. Sylvester with the TCDSB. I’m very keen to speak to you further and see if you’d be willing to come in and speak to our class about  bill 151. I have been in touch with Jeff Arp as well as our local MPP Soo Wong, but I know you’re at the forefront of upcoming change so was hoping you might be able to contact us.
I’m pasting the comment I just posted on the feedback site for Bill 151 but would also be grateful if you scroll down below this comment to see some of the work St. Sylvester school has been doing on the zero waste issue.
Will look forward to hearing from you soon.
I think this is a fantastic initiative especially given that you indicate that diversion rates have stalled at 25%. Two key points
1. it is critical that the green bin program be rolled out  to  every city in Ontario as well as every school as this will significantly reduce our waste to the landfill
2. In the course of a school project we're doing, we learned that a few years back, Frito Lay packaged Sun Chips in a biodegradable bag. From our conversation with them, we understand that while the bag cost more to make, Frito Lay did not charge the consumer more for the bag and as a result started seeing reduced profit. This in turn led them to shelve the idea. It is essential for government to enforce epr in these types of instances. If all companies were given the incentive to package their products in biodegradable packaging (less user fees) and if consumers only had the option to buy  their products in biodegradable packaging as opposed to cheaper packaging destined for the landfill, then progress could really be made.
From: Fernandes, Roy (St Sylvester)
Sent: Friday, January 29, 2016 5:05 PM
Subject: Zero waste project - St. Sylvester has more questions
Hi to you all,
Yes this is a group email that I’ve bcc’d you on but would be so very grateful for individual replies when you have time. We understand that not all of you will have answers for each of our questions, but appreciate you answering what you CAN answer. We also thank you in advance for some of the great information you’ve already provided us.
We’re also trying so hard to get someone to come in and speak to our class and hitting road block after road block.
We’ve been working on our zero waste project now since the start of January. You can view our website to see some of what we’ve been doing.
·        First page gives the initial work (and some classroom video included). Padlets are unedited but give some interesting insight into where our students are at.
·        Second page has some of our current thoughts
Biggest problem we’re having is getting answers to our questions such as
·        Is incineration a problem? Some tell us it puts dioxins into the air and others say it’s perfectly safe
·        Are companies paying for end costs of their packaging like we think is happening in parts of Europe? The green dot system from what we understand means that companies take full responsibility for their packaging. We also think we understand from Stewardship Ontario that companies here pay for the packaging they use according to where it goes but we want more specifics please. What’s the formula for the chip bag vs the cereal box?
·        The proposed bill 151 indicates an organic action plan for 2017. Does this mean green bins in all Ontario cities and for all multi residential units?
·        Bill 151 also talks about great Extended producer responsibility. Does this mean 100 % contribution from businesses instead of the current 50% which is not even followed by many companies
·        Can refillable bottles work here? We understand that they work for beer store so why not for pop bottles?
·        What do grocery stores really do with the money they collect for plastic bags because we want to see plastic bags (AND plastic water bottles gone!)?
If our questions are too simplistic, then we respectfully ask for you to help educate us. If our questions are too complex, then we really ask for your help in educating us. Our belief is that all learning starts with questions and then knowledge and then more questions after that.
We look forward to hearing back from you soon.
Thanks in advance for your time.
Roy Fernandes
St. Sylvester
260 Silver Springs Blvd.
Toronto, M1V 1S4
Tel 416-393-5373