She Thought She Needed a Recycling Petition. Vero Beach, FL.


A Fifth Grader in the Glendale Elementary, Vero Beach, FL Young Authors Club goes to the white board and writes “We need a petition.”

“Why do we need a petition?”

“We need a petition to start recycling.”

“Let’s check it out.”

Only three and a half hours after her inquiry was made to Vincent Burke, P. E. Director of Indian River County Utility Services, the student, a recipient of the email, received a 1) June 21, 2018 Memorandum from Mr. Burke to Mr. Jason E. Brown County Administrator, 2) a Cost Estimate for expansion of the School District of Indian River County and 3) the final answer she was looking for.

According to the Memorandum from Mr. Burke to Mr. Brown, in January, 2018 a Pilot Program was launched where recycling containers were purchased for the classrooms, offices, hallways, cafeterias and outdoor areas at four pilot schools.  “The purpose of the Pilot Program was to establish a robust campus-wide recycling program that would serve as a model and facilitate the expansion of recycling to all of the public schools in the District.”

The teachers indicated there were a few challenges with improper recycling in the outdoor containers, but overall, the students were recycling properly in the classroom, and the teachers noticed a reduction in the amount of garbage in their classrooms.  Mr. Burke reported that over 90% of the teachers recommended expanding the program to other schools.

“It is estimated that over 5,000 pounds of recycling from these schools is being diverted from the landfill every month based on an eight cubic yard container and an approximate density of 95 pounds per cubic yard for mixed recyclables.”

Mr. Jeffrey Cox, the trash technician for the School District, who is responsible for emptying the garbage dumpsters “…estimated a 45-50% reduction in the four elementary schools, a 30% reductional the middle school and a 35% reduction at the Freshman Learning Center.

Included with Mr. Burke’s Memorandum was a remarkably detailed estimate of recycling materials for the 16 remaining schools.  Here is the cost estimate for Glendale Elementary that concerns the Glendale student.

Glendale Recycling

Here is the email the student received in answer to her original question, at 2:17 pm, after her email at 10:37 am.

From: Rieben, Ann []
Sent: Monday, May 6, 2019 2:17 PM
To: Himanshu Mehta <>; Faust, Adam <>
Cc: Sue Flak <>
Subject: Re: Recycling Question

I am glad to hear that there are students and faculty interested in the program already.  Due to budget restrictions, we were not able to launch all the schools this year.  There are 9 schools left that will be added to the recycling program in either August 2019 or January 2020, depending on when we can increase our budget to allow more recycling pick ups.

As soon as I hear when we can begin, I will be setting up meetings with those schools so the process can begin on creating a school green team and preparing the faculty and students for the launch.

Have a Great Day!

Ann Rieben

Custodial Services Coordinator/Trainer

School District of Indian River County

This process taught the students, according to the Florida Sunshine Law, how any person in Florida can request public documents and a purpose does not have to be stated.  And the students, in three and one-half hours, received the requested documents.  They extend their appreciation to Mr. Burke.


Areana 2


Younger students too, if they have a particular pursuit, have an authority they don’t realize.





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