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OC Waste & Recycling Partnership with Inside the Outdoors Earns Coveted Environmental and Economic Leadership Award for 2015

SANTA ANA, Calif. — A partnership between OC Waste & Recycling and Inside the Outdoors is one of 12 California organizations recognized with the 2015 Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA). The award is the state’s highest environmental honor.

 “I am proud to see recognition of Orange County’s leadership in sustainable practices. Project Zero Waste is helping to educate and inspire young people throughout the County,” said Orange County Board Chairwoman Lisa Bartlett. “The participants in the program are learning the importance of both environmental and economic stewardship. This can only help them as they grow into tomorrow’s leaders.”

Project Zero Waste, a K-12 service-learning program developed through a partnership between the County of Orange—OC Waste & Recycling, and the Orange County Department of Education’s (OCDE) Inside the Outdoors, received the award yesterday at a ceremony at the California Environmental Protection Agency headquarters in Sacramento.

The Orange County Office of Education’s Project Zero Waste program is an Inside the Outdoors service-learning environmental science program developed in partnership with the County of Orange—OC Waste & Recycling. Every year Project Zero Waste engages more than 40,000 students in project-based lessons that transform classroom concepts into real life action.

 Some of the projects designed and implemented by students in the Project Zero Waste program include campus-wide recycling efforts, school gardens, community clean-up events and other student-led activities. Project Zero Waste improves academic outcomes, builds 21st century skills, and promotes civic engagement for students, teachers, and community partners.

 More than 325,000 have participated in hands-on environmental science instruction since the launch of Project Zero Waste in 2009. In the program, participants first learn the science of solid waste though Inside the Outdoors field trips and in-class lessons taught by Traveling Scientists. Then they apply what they’ve learned to the design and implementation of solid waste reduction projects.

 Assessments of Project Zero Waste students show an average increase in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) knowledge of 14 percent, and the benefits go even further. Schools engaging in the program have reduced their trash output by almost 400,000 pounds annually.

 OCDE also received the Governor’s Award for Environmental and Economic Leadership for the Inside the Outdoors program in 2011. To learn more about Project Zero Waste visit the Inside the Outdoors website.

Established in 1993, GEELA is awarded to individuals, companies and organizations that use sustainable business practices to conserve energy, reduce waste or prevent pollution while contributing to their local economy.

OC Waste & Recycling manages one of the nation’s premiere solid waste disposal systems, which serve 34 cities and more than three million residents. The department operates a network of three active landfills and four household hazardous waste collection centers. OC Waste & Recycling sponsors the Eco Challenge Exhibit at Discovery Cube OC, offering a hands-on learning experience to promote the three Rs: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Visit for more information.