New trash bins are coming to Columbia Public Schools starting in the fall when current cafeteria trash bins are expected to be replaced with ones that promote recycling and composting.

The new trash stations will be split into three components: mixed container recycling, compostable waste and regular trash, with a goal of diverting almost 600 tons of recycled and composted material by the end of the program Aug. 31, 2021.

“Anything we can keep out of the landfills is great,” said Mike Jones, the district’s director of custodial services. He called it a “win-win situation for everyone.”

The Columbia School Board approved a deal with the Mid-Missouri Solid Waste Management District at its Monday meeting to acquire a grant that provides funds the new recycling and composting bins.

The board’s approval was the final action needed for the project to move forward, said Ben Kreitner, the city’s waste minimization coordinator and the project manager of the program. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources approved the grant on April 30.

The Mid-Missouri Solid Waste Management District will provide about $96,000, while the district will add about $32,000 from its custodial services operating budget.

Jones said the program will teach students about recycling and preserving the environment. The grant request included an electronic waste sorting game that would be used in classrooms to teach about sorting, according to the financial assistance agreement for the grant.

All schools will receive the new bins but not at the same time. The district will be divided into three groups of schools with the first phase beginning this fall and the second beginning in spring 2020.

Phase one will include Rock Bridge High School and most of its feeder schools, Kreitner said, followed by Douglass High School, Hickman High School and their feeder schools in the second phase.

Laina Fullum, the district’s director of nutrition services, said the district was “immediately on board” when the city approached her with the idea.

“We are just so super duper excited about it,” she said.

Supervising editor is Daphne Psaledakis.

  • I'm an education reporter studying print and digital editing. Any tips or story ideas can be sent to me at or in the newsroom at 882-5720.

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