Changes are coming to Dallas school lunches this month.
The Dallas Independent School District is one of six large school districts that will soon start using compostable round plates in school cafeterias instead of polystyrene trays.
The new lunch trays are similar to the plates students eat off of at home and will replace the rectangular lunch trays.
The new trays are produced from pre-consumer recycled newsprint and will be composted, reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills.
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The Dallas ISD, along with school districts in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami-Dade and Orlando, is part of the Urban School Food Alliance. The districts worked together to challenge the industry to develop an affordable, environmentally-friendly round plate.
The Alliance school districts serve 2.5 million meals a day and project to remove 225 million polystyrene trays from landfills every year. Polystyrene trays average about $0.04 each compared to its compostable counterpart, which averages about $0.12 each. The new compostable round plate costs a more affordable $0.04.9 per plate.
"These cities are teaching kids that sustainability and smarter choices can be integrated into every part of your daily life - even your lunch," said Mark Izeman, senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, one of the nation's leading environmental and public health organizations. "Shifting from polystyrene trays to compostable plates will allow these cities to dramatically slash waste sent to landfills, reduce plastics pollution in our communities and oceans, and create valuable compost that can be re-used on our farms."
Urban School Food Alliance schools districts will work toward purchasing compostable cutlery and are expected to roll out the new utensils in schools during the 2015-2016 school year.