Piney Branch ES Dishwasher Pilot Project

We raised more than $10,000 to do a pilot project at Piney Branch Elementary School that would test the pros and cons of washing reusable lunch trays versus using single-use disposable styrofoam trays. We weren’t able to pursue this project, so we are now planning on using the money for our community based compost project. Below is a record of our work on the dishwasher project.

Our local Takoma Park City Council and the Montgomery County Council supported our dishwasher project as did several of our state elected officials. However, neither the Montgomery County Board of Education (MD) nor former Superintendent Dr. Joshua Starr supported our project. We testified many times, addressed all their concerns, and modified our proposal to lease instead of purchase a dishwasher. At the request of several School Board members (back in 2009!), we paid for a professional study, which confirmed the project was doable within our budget. Since then we had two other dishwasher experts visit Piney Branch and also confirm the feasibility of the pilot project. In addition, we sponsored a private webinar with School Board members to learn from Chicago area schools that have saved money as a result of installing tray washers. The Board opted to study the school district’s carbon footprint rather than take action on styrofoam lunch trays and support our student-led and student-funded initiative. On the plus side, while we were unable to do our dishwasher project, we are thrilled that MCPS replaced all styrofoam lunch trays with paperboard ones, starting in the 2014-2015 school year.

For more information on this past project, see the following links and documents.

Dishwasher Campaign Background and Status

Testimony to School Board by Young Activist Club members
(June 2012, download pdf)

Draft Resolution for School Board to Consider, presented by Brenda Platt, Parent Co-Leader, Young Activist Club
(June 2012, download pdf)

Presentation to School Board: “Replacing Styrofoam Lunch Trays: Costs, Benefits & Lessons Learned from Elementary Schools in Oak Park, IL” by Jennifer Nelson, Zero Waste Program Manager, Seven Generations Ahead
(June 2012, download pdf)

Summary of Cost Savings to Oak Park, IL Schools, prepared for School Board at their request following June presentation, by Jennifer Nelson
(June 2012, download pdf)

Testimony to School Board by Brenda Platt, Parent Co-Leader, Young Activist Club
(May 2012, download pdf)

Rebuttal to Points in MCPS Memo from Superintendent
(February 2010)

MCPS Memo from Superintendent in response to PBES Dishwasher Feasibility Study
(December 2009, download pdf)

Testimony to School Board at Public Hearing on Facilities & Boundary Issues by Brenda Platt, Parent Co-Leader, Young Activist Club
(November 2009, download pdf)

Tray Washing Feasibility Study for Piney Branch Elementary School by Burke Design (November 2009, download pdf)

History of Young Activist Club

Frequently Asked Questions about the Piney Branch ES Pilot Dishwasher Project

Montgomery County Council letter of support to School Board and Superintendent (March 2010, download pdf)

School Board and Superintendent Letter Response to County Council
(April 2010, download pdf)

Piney Branch ES PTA letter response to School Board and Superintendent
(May 2010, download pdf)

City of Takoma Park Resolution Supporting the Club and Its Dishwasher Project
(June 2009, download pdf)

MD State Senator Jamie Raskin’s Statement of Support (March 2010)

Elected Officials Who Support Our Dishwasher Project