Kaʻōhao Public Charter School

(formerly Lanikai Elementary)

Leadership, Innovation, Science, Agriculture

Student enrollment, K-6: 330

Start: January 2014
• Total 2014 food waste recovered: 1,049 lbs.
• Total 2015 food waste recovered: 14,591 lbs.
• Total 2016 food waste recovered: 16,308 lbs.
• Total 2017 food waste recovered: 15,483 lbs.
• Total 2018 food waste recovered: 14,292 lbs.

Award: U.S. EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge national winner in 2016, category Schools K-12
Video: “Welcome to Lanikai School’s Zero Waste Revolution”

Ka’ohao Public Charter School started with worms in 2014 and added hot composting and bokashi fermentation in 2015. Vermicomposting capacity was tripled over the next couple of years; bokashi was discontinued.  Worms currently process approximately 60% of total food waste; 40% is hot composted.  The precise, exacting procedures developed during the evolution of resource recovery at Ka’ohao is dubbed the Ka’ohao Protocol.  This model provides the template for all other locations.

As a charter school independent from the DOE, Ka’ohao contracts with local caterer One Love Café to serve locally-sourced, organic, fresh and delicious lunches daily, reducing a considerable amount of food waste at the source.  Much more prep waste than post-consumer waste is generated, which explains the preponderance of composting worms at Ka’ohao.

Other waste collected includes HI-5 cans and bottles for redemption, all of the green waste for processing on-site, and much of the cardboard and paper for worm bin bedding and sheet mulching.  Dumpster volume has been decreased by 90% since 2014.

Sort-It-Out Sam
Ka’ohao has a unique satellite system for waste collection from the classrooms and around the campus. Twelve Sort-It-Out Sams daily recover food waste, cans, bottles, and paper for recycling, and mylar packaging for up-cycling.

The only public school in the State with a commercial dishwasher, Ka’ohao has eliminated most single-use disposable food service items, washing and reusing plastic trays, ramekins, and metal forks.

Zero Heroes
Sixth grade curriculum requires at least one week of service operating the lunchtime Separation Stations including set-up, monitoring food sorting at four locations, collecting washables, running the dishwasher, station breakdown, and washing buckets.  Teams of five get a heavy dose of real-world work experience!  Teacher supervised.

Science & Ag
The Windward Zero Waste School Hui staff guarantees that participating schools have a reliable, on-going source of compost and vermicast to restore gardens, landscaping, and lawns. Exactly what school staff does with the stuff is their prerogative.  Ka’ohao is fortunate to have 6th Grade/ STEM teacher, Mr. Parker Sawyer, who beyond creating a productive garden saw endless possibilities for project-based learning in science, engineering, and agriculture  Besides a lovely grade-level garden, Ka’ohao students run productive banana, papaya, and avocado groves, and a 1/16th-acre farm that provides a variety of produce to sell at a weekly farm stand.  Mr. Sawyer’s students have earned a slew of Science Fair regional and even national academic awards for soil-inspired projects.