What is SOS?

logoSave Organic Scraps (SOS) is a program started by Clark County Environmental Services to reduce solid waste generated in Clark County, Washington schools.  The program helps integrate compreehensive recycling and compost programs at school while also working to advance reuse and reduction.

The Save Organic Scraps program can be found in almost every Clark County public school.  Students, teachers and staff have worked hard together to make waste reduction and being good stewards of the environment part of their school values.  Together they help to annually divert from the landfill over 1 million pounds of food scraps, 22 million milk cartons, 8 million plastic bottles and 8 million aluminum cans.  At the same time they are also working to reduce waste in the first place by challenging their schools to avoid purchasing excess single use items and instead utilize more and more durable products.


What can and can’t go in the SOS bins?


All food can be disposed of in the compost bin. This means everything—meat, bones, eggs, breads, cereals, fruit, vegetables, pasta, rice... If it ROTS, it can compost!


You absolutely cannot compost paper, plastic, foil or foam in Save Organic Scraps compost bins.  This includes plastic utensils, juice boxes, Styrofoam, chip bags, snack wrappers, plastic bags, paper bags, paper boats, napkins, and yogurt containers. Some of them do not rot.  We don't want paper products n our compost bins because students often throw in plastic, foil and foam products along with them.  also some of these paper products have a hidden plastic layer (paper boats for example).  when in doubt, remember FOOD ONLY goes in the school compost bin.   If you have a question about what can and cannot be composted, please ask a Student Monitor at the cafeteria sort line or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


SOS Cafeteria Sign

How does organic waste become compost?

bin compostFood scraps students put in the green SOS cafeteria compost bins is collected once a week and shipped to a compost facility to be made into compost. Commercial compost facilities help to speed up the biological process and allow this program to collect all food  scraps from the cafeteria (we can compost meat and dairy at school because of commercial composting processes - you would not want to compost meat and dairy in your backyard compost bin!). Good air flow and the right ingredients help to degrade the waste into compost quickly, in about 45 days. The compost is then packaged and distributed as a soil amendment to farms, nurseries, landscapers and people just like you, who use it to promote healthy plant growth and protect ground water. The Washington Department of Transportation also uses compost as a roadside application. Watch Cafeteria to Compost to find out more!!

How can I make my own compost?

Compost facilities are useful for composting large amounts of wastes, like what is generated at your school, but you can compost food waste in your own backyard or kitchen with a worm bin. A worm bin is a wood or plastic box with tightly fitting lids that provide a dark, moist environment for worms. Using worms helps to speed up the decay of your food scraps, leaving you with healthy compost in just 3 to 4 months! For full details about composting and making your own worm bin, check out these resources.


Master Composter Recycler Brochure

Compost improves the quality of our land, air and water resources so that we can keep enjoying the natural beauty of the outdoors.

Compost improves the environment by adding organic matter, microbes, nutrients, and minerals to our soil. Healthy soil reduces water and air pollutants, run-off and erosion. This is critical for air and water quality and even better for people and fish. Compost conserves water because it balances how much water is retained in the soil and how much penetrates through the soil. It also reduces or eliminates the need for chemical fertilizers that pollute groundwater, rivers and streams. Additionally, keeping food waste out of the ground and landfills reduces the amount of methane gas in the atmosphere. Methane gas contributes to climate change.

What bottles and cans can I recycle, and where?

bin cansIf you’ve been a Clark County student for a few years, you’ve probably learned how to recycle bottles and cans. At your school, all plastic bottles and soda cans can be recycled. Glass bottles cannot be recycled in the schools. Bottle and can recycling containers are located throughout your school, and are usually Clear Stream containers that you can see right into. Always check the label on the container before throwing in your recyclables. Putting recyclables in the wrong bins can cause a big problem for waste specialists and can seriously reduce the effectiveness of the recycling program.

How does recycling bottles and cans help to keep the outdoors healthy?

Recycling bottles and cans saves energy and conserves natural resources because it reduces the need to produce products from virgin materials. Recycling six aluminum cans saves enough energy to drive a car 5 miles. Recycling bottles and cans also reduces greenhouse gas emissions by decreasing the amount of waste from landfills and the ground. Reducing greenhouse gasses keeps our air and water cleaner, and reduces climate change.

What are recycled bottles and cans made into?

Recycled aluminum cans be made into car frames, beverage cans, windows, doors and appliances. Recycled plastic can be made into carpet, toys, flower pots and even fleece clothing.


What Are You Wearing?

What paper can I recycle, and where?

bin paperAt Clark County schools, you can recycle notebook paper, cardboard, magazines and newspapers in the blue bins in your classroom.


Paper Recycling Sticker

How does recycling paper help preserve the outdoors?

First, paper recycling conserves natural resources—trees. One third of the U.S. is forestland, and with paper recycling and tree planting programs, we can help to keep it that way! Paper recycling saves energy, reduces pollution and creates jobs. Producing recycled paper causes 35 percent less water pollution and creates 5 times more jobs than producing virgin paper provides. Paper recycling also saves landfill space—about 3.3 cubic yards for every ton of paper recycled.

What is recycled paper made into?

Recycled paper can be made into toilet tissues, paper towels, paper liners, printing/copying paper, building insulation, cardboard boxes and newspaper.

Watch Ecoclips


Looking for more resources?

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Visit www.clark.wa.gov/recycle for more information on recycling, composting, and waste reduction in Clark County.

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