The City and County of Honolulu’s Recycling Office initiated the Recycling Teaching Partners program (RTP) to provide a variety of recycling education activities to both public and private school students that included hot composting, vermicomposting, 3R’s projects, recycling art, and more. This wildly popular program ran from 2005 to 2012 during which time RTP vendors The Green House and Waikiki Worm Company, among others, visited over 180 schools.

Under the imaginative and bold leadership of The Green House, Palolo Elementary School became the first Zero Waste School in 2010-2011, collecting 20 tons of breakfast and lunch waste and processing it on campus in hot compost piles and worm bins. Honestly, no one thought it could be done! The top-quality soil amendments were used to create beautiful, productive gardens on the Palolo campus.

Acknowledging this stunning accomplishment, The Green House was awarded a $100,000 Island Innovation grant from the Ulupono Initiative to repeat the process and expand it the next school year. Waikiki Worm Company was brought on board to upgrade Palolo’s worm system.

Waikiki Worm Company was contacted by Pearl City High School to set up a similar worm system for their Special Education students. By the 2013-2014 school year the SPED project blossomed to a full-on Resource Recovery powerhouse that utilized vermicomposting, thermal composting, Soldier Fly Larvae (BSFL) bioconversion, and bokashi fermentation technologies to process nearly 40 tons of food waste. See http://www.waikikiworm.com/worm/. In 2015, Pearl City High School won the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Food Recovery Challenge award in the category Schools K-12. Number One in the nation!

Shortly thereafter, Oahu Resource Conservation and Development Council, a 501c3 non-profit organization, accepted the role of fiscal sponsor and contracted with Waikiki Worm Company to design, implement, and manage future Resource Recovery projects.

Next up in Windward Oahu was Lanikai Public Charter School, who had struggled unsuccessfully for years to maintain a workable recycling program on their campus. Long story short, the Lanikai Zero Waste Revolution transformed the campus nearly overnight. For more details, see the Archive section where monthly reports are posted. One hundred percent of food waste is recovered and processed on site as well as all paper, cardboard, and green waste.

Lanikai School (re-named Ka’ohao School) maintains extensive gardens, papaya and banana groves, as well as a 1/16-acre farm, all nourished from recycled organic waste. A two-in-a-row victory for Hawaii, Lanikai won the 2106 U.S. EPA Food Recovery Challenge award, category Schools K-12. The Lanikai Zero Waste Revolution video released in December of 2016 went around the world:

In January 2017, the Zero Waste Revolution was retired and re-organized as the Windward Zero Waste School Hui when two new schools were added: Ka’elepulu Elementary and Kainalu Elementary. Detailed monthly reports on the progress of all three schools were published and are posted in the Archives section of this website. In 2017, these three schools together recovered 63,490 pounds of food waste and turned it into rich soil and fertilizer. That’s 31.75 tons diverted from the waste stream.

In August of 2018, two more schools were added to total five in the Hui: Enchanted Lake Elementary School (ELES) and Kailua Intermediate School (KIS). The total food waste recovery data is posted weekly both on this website and on the State of Hawaii’s Aloha+ Challenge Sustainability Dashboard. The Windward Zero Waste School Hui’s goal is to provide Resource Recovery programs to the entire Kailua-Kalaheo Complex by 2020-2021.

The State Legislature passed House Bill 2025 – signed into law July 2018 – to promote composting on Hawaii Public School campuses and to appropriate monies to set up and sustain composting programs. While it should not be mandatory, it is our intention that any school on Oahu, eventually in the State, should have the option of converting to a Zero Waste school with the support of public funding.