In just one school year, elementary pupils in the Squamish Lillooet Regional District cut by nearly two-thirds the amount of lunch waste going into the region's landfills.
Kim Armour of the SLRD's Zero Waste program said a 63 per cent reduction per participating class was a significant step towards meeting the project's goal of reducing per capita solid waste levels by 67 per cent.
The Zero Waste Program was aimed at 450 elementary students in Grades 4 and 5 who took part in a workshop that explained the SLRD's waste management system, including a look at wasteful packaging and an audit of what was binned at lunchtimes.
Armour said every participating class has succeeded in reducing waste and had been entered in a competition to win composters for the classroom.
"Children learned about what was zero waste, what happens to garbage and recycling, they learned how to reuse, recycle, rethink," Armour said.
"Then we did a lunchtime audit, breaking it down to categories like lunch containers, wrappers, and so on."
The program had a high school component for Grades 11 and 12, but it was less successful as it was an after school program impacted by teachers' current job action.
Armour will present her findings to the SLRD board later in February.
"It's a multi-year program and will start up again in the fall of 2012," she said.
"The kids were really receptive to the message in general. Teachers loved it, they said it was a great learning tool. It was really, really well received."
A spokesperson for the Resort Municipality of Whistler said that generally up to 40 per cent of waste that is sent to landfills from the municipality is compostable.