The Tel Aviv municipality announced on Monday that it will remove all disposable plates, cups and eating utensils from the city’s schools. The city said it would complete the move by the end of 2019.
Schools and preschools in Tel Aviv use around 100,000 disposable utensils a day, which adds up to two million a month and 20 million a year. Last week dozens of parents and children demonstrated in front of City Hall to protest the use of disposable tableware in the schools.
According to the municipality, the change will happen gradually. In the first stage the city’s preschools will be equipped with multiuse plates and utensils, and dozens of preschools will get dishwashers to help the staff clean the plates and flatware. Eventually all the preschools will be given dishwashers. Schoolchildren will wash their plates, cups and flatware at home and the city will purchase personal multiuse sets for the 20,000 students in all of its after-school programs.
The preschool forum of the Tel Aviv Parents Association welcomed the moved but demanded that the hot food no longer be brought to schools in disposable plastic containers. The forum expressed concern about carcinogens and hormone disrupters leaching from the plastic into the food. The city said that next year the contracts with food suppliers will be changed so that the food will be transported in stainless steel pans.
Kfar Sava, Ra’anana, Rehovot and Pardes Hannah-Karkur have all recently removed disposable tableware from their after-school programs, and Hod Hasharon, Herzliya and Holon are conducting pilot programs of this type. But in some places, the change has been protested by the preschool aides, who have to wash the multiuse items.
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Tel Aviv Deputy Mayor Tzipi Brand said, “Aside from the environmental value of the move, the decision has educational value: Our children are concerned for the future of the world they’re growing up in. This is another way to harness the educational system and the city’s children and residents to environmental education, out of a belief that children are agents of change for promoting and encouraging municipal activities to advance the values of sustainability, community involvement and health.”
Shirley Rimon Bracha, the director for Tel Aviv’s Education Administration, said, “The move comes in addition to a series of municipal moves that promote thinking about sustainability.”