Empowered STEM is a project of Earth Force
April 23, 2020

Students Update Recycling Ordinances

Ms. Eckelkamp’s 7th Grade Science class began the Fall the way many classes had started before them. Each year Ms. Eckelkamp takes her students to the stream to conduct chemical tests of water quality. In the Fall of 2017 the students were particularly concerned about the amount of garbage they found in the stream. To better understand the problem the students met with the City Waste Disposal Office and reviewed data generated from a series of city surveys about recycling rates. 

Root Problem

The students next reached out to a local Alderman to learn more about the new recycling policies adopted by the city. They found that the city had adopted a curbside recycling policy, but that policy only applied to single family dwellings. Students then gathered data on recycling habits of Wentzville residents who live in multi-family developments. They found that not only was the amount of litter in their town increasing, the recycling rate was decreasing. People living in multifamily dwellings showed the same desire to recycle, but were required to drive across the county to recycle. 

Advocating for Change

Seeing a gap in local policy the students set about making the argument that providing curbside recycling for multifamily dwellings would improve recycling rates in Wentzville. Working with the  Waste Disposal Office students were able to calculate the increase in recycling that happens when curbside recycling is available. They also discovered the number of people living in multifamily dwellings and were able to calculate the waste diverted out of the waste stream by a change in policy. With this information in hand students worked with a local homeowners association and the City of Wentzville to draft a Multifamily Recycling policy requiring a recycling dumpster area impacting all new construction, which was unanimously approved by the Board of Aldermen.