Rubbish Free School Update

Eltham North Primary School is a Healthy Eating School. This means we promote action and change within the school, incorporating nutrition studies across different learning areas. We have fruit and vegetable breaks in class and use water bottles for classrooms (hydration program).

We have exciting plans where ENPS operates as a Rubbish Free School. This is a practical, real and positive way to encourage healthy eating and teach waste minimisation.

Students are encouraged to bring food without packaging. There are many types of lunchboxes that support this program.

The waste generated from student lunches will be disposed of in the following way:

Food scraps – sent to the worm farms

All other waste will be put back into the students’ lunchboxes and taken home

At recess, food is taken out of its wrapper which is put straight back in the student’s lunchbox. Snacks like muesli bars and crackers should be sent to school in a container, without wrapping. Students only take their lunchboxes outside with them if needed, and put them in a tub that sits outside their classroom when they have finished. At lunch, students who have not finished when the bell goes take their lunchboxes out with them and put them in their class tub when they have finished.  Now is great time to start thinking about what goes into your child’s lunchbox and considering healthy alternatives.

Our Policy:Waste Minimisation and Rubbish Free Food Policy

Like all schools, Eltham North Primary School can produce large amounts of waste. However, it is our aim to send as little waste as possible to landfill. This will lead to financial savings for the school, considerable benefits for the environment and many opportunities for the students to learn environmentally-sound attitudes and habits. It is also our aim to have the least amount of litter in the school buildings and grounds. This will make our school more attractive and save money and time in collecting carelessly discarded litter. It is also important from a health viewpoint. The school is committed to a whole school approach to environment education of which waste minimisation and rubbish free food plays a vital role. It is the policy of our school that: • the strategies of reduce, reuse, recycle and compost is incorporated in everyday activities • the strategy of rubbish free food and rubbish free lunch packaging is incorporated in everyday activities • waste minimisation is included in the relevant areas of the school curriculum, and recycled products and others that help reduce waste are purchased where possible.


Healthy Food poster

Classroom Expectations and Language:

Encourage reduction of rubbish

Encourage reusable / sealable containers to be used for food

Encourage bulk items in containers rather than little packets

Black / Blue tubs placed outside classrooms for containers

All containers to be labelled with names

No wrappers to be taken outside

All food to be finished in classroom zone

Lunch order wrappers and other wrappers all to be taken home

Fruit and some food scraps into specified tubs – to be emptied daily – washed out weekly WORM FARMS/COMPOST


Encourage reduction of wrappers

To provide reusable containers

Encourage bulk items bought instead of individual wrapping and portions brought to school in containers

Label all containers – Encourage students to be responsible for them

If dairy products are sent to school, provide chilled packs to keep food at appropriate room temperature

Expect wrappers to be taken back home, including lunch order material

Read Rubbish Free Policy items in the Newsletter or on the website

Towards Zero Waste:

Our challenge is to keep striving towards zero rubbish. Our everyday, positive waste reduction behaviours include: using recyclable containers, no bins in the yard, black tubs for containers (outside each classroom), daily collection of food scraps for worm farms and compost, visual and oral reminders (posters, murals). regular updates at assemblies and in newsletters, implementation of classroom strategies by Environmental Leaders (e.g take home any wrappers you bring), as well as our Waste Warriors initiative (students taking responsibility for school grounds remaining rubbish free).

Taking action:

It was noted that certain schoolyard zones required attention as a result after hours visitors and sporadic littering. The Waste Warriors program was modified toa level team challenge - rotating small groups of students from each school level are responsible for a quick daily patrol of assigned areas. These changes ensure all students have a turn, raise awareness and responsibility with minimal school program interruption. 

Benefits of the Rubbish Free Lunch Challenge:

The annual RFLC challenge identifies areas for further improvement. With an increasing school population we need to regularly review our waste reduction practices. Monitoring of waste has been collected for the past six years, for State of the School data and SETs.

This year, the data collected on our designated RFL day was compared to another ‘normal’ day as well as another surprise date (which happened to be the only weekday we have lunch orders -provided by a shop across the road). It was noted that on a usual day the total amount of rubbish was higher by 31% than an advertised RFL day. As well as measuring waste, data was also collected on the number of wrappers and containers. The number of wrappers went down significantly and the number of containers was up. This shows the positive influence of the RFL and affirms of our current practices.

As the lunch order day generates wrappers, our Environmental Leaders devised a scheme to raise awareness of this. For a couple of weeks they hid the class bins – forcing anyone who was tempted to dump their wrappers to reconsider their actions. This strategy is working efficiently in classrooms. They also monitor recycling, food scraps and other waste reduction practices in the classroom.

Students undertaking the waste audit also noted that our recycle paper bins were well used. They are currently exploring ways to reduce this further.  

Raising awareness:

Community awareness for all our waste reduction practices is continually addressed in regular newsletter and website updates as well as assembly presentations. Our involvement in programs, like the Greenhouse Games Challenge, is another example of families getting involved in sustainable practices.. For our RFL, students painted simple signs.

Environmental Leaders liase with our Sustainable School coordinators, class teachers and their classmates to promote and conduct the activities associated with the RFL challenge. A group of year four students collected the data and reported back to the school community at Assembly and in a newsletter item. 


ENPS Sustainable Schools School Improvement Team’s annual implementation plan, ensures that coaching and classroom programs address the key issues of waste reduction on a regular basis. Our Waste policy encompasses the practices promoted by the RFL challenge. As a 5 star Sustainable school waste has been monitored via State of the School and SETs over six years. In classrooms Environmental Leaders provide leadership by informing and encouraging their peers to implement waste reduction practices. Participating in the annual RFLC provides an focus for review and further actions in response to data collected - reinforcing lifelong, waste reduction practices in our school community –involving students, parents and teachers. 

Waste reduction - education and practices - are addressed in: classroom coaching programs, in the 2 year Scope and Sequence Units of Work, in our school-wide Start Up program, in regular Environmental Leaders activities and whole school days such as our 2009 World Environment day activities this year.  

Food and fruit scraps: are collected daily and added to worm farms (four large barrel and five box worm farms) and our compost maker. The by products of these -‘worm juice’ and composted materials are used in our school and vegetable gardens.

Paper is sorted. One sided sheets and partially used coloured paper are stored in ‘scrap’ boxes to be reused. Cardboard and other paper products are collected each fortnight by Nillumbik Council to be recycled.

No Wrappers Goal: It is our school’s expectation that any wrappers brought to school must be taken back home.

Everyday expectations: At Prep entry parents are informed of the ENPS rubbish free practices. All parents are encouraged to provide food in reuseable containers, and are shown examples of possible storage solutions as a part of the transition program.

Batteries and printer cartridges are collected for recycling.

Summary: At Eltham North PS we strive to have rubbish free lunches everyday. Our first Rubbish Free Lunch challenge four years ago formed the basis of our program that reinforces lifelong waste reduction practices and encourages all students to think about and accept responsibility for the waste they create. Graphs from previous and this year’s data reveal that our waste has remained constant despite approximately 25% growth in our student enrolment over the past four years. Increased collection of recycled paper and food scraps, a commitment to revise and refine waste reduction practices as well as proactively seeking opportunities for further learning result in a dynamic waste program where continuing little changes make a big difference.