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Palm Beach Currumbin kicking sustainability goals

​Sustainability in action: Students at Palm Beach Currumbin State High School carried out a waste audit to improve their school’s waste management practices

​It's easy to develop an appreciation for nature when your school is nestled between a beautiful creek and the ocean.

The school community at Palm Beach Currumbin State High School is passionate about caring for their local environment and has a long list of sustainability initiatives in place to reduce their environmental footprint.

From conducting their own waste audit to overhauling their school canteen packaging with recyclable and biodegradable options, the school's commitment to looking after the environment is nothing short of impressive.

Executive Principal Chris Capra said sustainability is a key focus for Palm Beach Currumbin and embedded in the curriculum.

"As one of the biggest schools on the Gold Coast, with approximately 2,500 students and 250 staff, it's important we lead by example as our school influences thousands of people in our local community," he said.

"Given our beautiful beachfront and creek-side location, we can see first-hand how our actions can have a direct and immediate impact on our local environment.

"By taking small actions every day, we are making a real difference – and this is only the beginning of our school's journey to zero waste."

The school's sustainability movement is proudly led by teachers and sustainability coordinators Bianca Benigno and Tom Pasley.

Ms Benigno said the student-led waste audit helped shape the school's plan to improve their waste management processes and reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill.

"The waste audit was our first step to determining exactly what Palm Beach Currumbin throws away over a week," she said.

"By auditing 25 bins and separating out more than 30 kilograms of organic waste, our students discovered that more than half of what we were throwing away was compostable or recyclable, and could be diverted from landfill.

"We now have a plan to compost all organic waste to nourish the school's garden, have paper bins in every classroom and staffroom, and are more mindful as a school community about recycling."

Mr Pasley said the school community has taken full advantage of the Container Refund Scheme.

"So far, we have recycled more than 55,000 eligible containers and made more than $5,000, which our students voted to spend on new cold water bubblers to reduce the amount of plastic-bottled water," he said.

The school is also in the process of establishing a sustainability shed, equipped with waste sorting and processing machinery, to provide students with vocational qualifications and cross-curricular opportunities.

Other initiatives include real-time water usage tracking, digitising resources and assessments, student inter-house sustainability competitions, ceramic KeepCups for all staff (and a discount for use at the canteen) and providing teachers with sustainability professional development.

For more information visit Palm Beach Currumbin State High School.

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia (CC BY 3.0) ( )
Last updated
02 September 2019