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Plastic fantastic at Tenison Woods


From jewellery to plant pots, benches and serving platters, used plastics are getting a new lease of life thanks to an ecology program at Tenison Woods College.

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Established in 2020, Project Recology is an initiative supporting the Mount Gambier college’s goal of zero waste by 2025.

With an industrial composter onsite and the collection of e-waste, 10c recyclables, paper/cardboard and in the past 12 months, hard plastics, the school is able to recycle waste items and produce an assortment of value-added products.

Sustainability coordinator Tom Linnell said through the project students were learning valuable lessons about how waste is “viewed and imagined”, and gaining skills in entrepreneurship, civics and citizenship, business and economics.

“Project Recology is giving young people the opportunity to understand that waste, specifically plastic waste, is a growing problem that we all need to play a role in re-imagining a solution for,” he said.

“The initiative is working to change the mindset of our community and people more broadly, to explore more circular economies and begin to view waste as a resource.

“By utilising the global ‘Precious Plastic’ model we’ve been able to collect, sort, shred and create new products from a wide range of plastic waste material.

“Plastic lids are a favourite due to their varied colours and have been used to make everything from jewellery, clipboards, tables, benches, signage, plant pots, serving platters and coasters.”

Mr Linnell said the plastic recycling process was heavily integrated into the college curriculum, with the Early Learning Community charged with collecting and sorting the lids, Primary students involved in whole class and individual projects, middle year’s Technology subject offerings and even senior students undertaking Community Studies subjects on the issue of plastic pollution and circular economies.

“We are fortunate to also have our community support the initiative through providing sorted plastics as well as through purchasing the creations,” he added.

Earlier this year Tenison Woods was one of 16 schools throughout the State to receive a ‘Call to Ecological Conversion and Action’ grant from Catholic Education’s Ecology Advisory Committee.
Mr Linnell said the $500 grant would be used to fund a mould to develop a new product to be included in Project Recology.

Mr Linnell said another ecology project currently being developed was the erection of a beehive on the school grounds as part of a junior beekeeping extra curricula program.

“We are also continuing to explore our college founder Fr Julian Tenison Wood’s strong connections to ecology and sustainability, and the strong parallels to Pope Francis’ pivotal encyclical Laudato Si’. Earlier this term we celebrated Laudato Si’ Week with several successful activities,” he said.


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