Ireland’s leading organics recycling firm, Natural World Products (NWP), has helped significantly boost the Eco-Schools programme in the Derry City and Strabane District Council area during its first year of supporting the initiative.

Over the past 12 months, NWP has partnered and funded environmental charity Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful (KNIB) to deliver the international Eco-Schools scheme in the region, enabling 25 schools in the Derry City and Strabane District area to receive their Green Flags.

The Eco-Schools initiative, now in its 30th year, educates students on various environmental issues, including biodiversity, energy conservation, waste reduction, and more, fostering sustainable practices and enhancing environmental education.

Gareth Lamrock, Field Officer for Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, highlighted the success of the partnership, saying:

“In 2022, the percentage of Derry and Strabane area schools with the Green Flag was only 9%. Thanks to the support of NWP, nearly 50% of the region’s schools have achieved Green Flag status in 2024, surpassing the Northern Ireland average of 42%.

“NWP’s sponsorship has been instrumental in advancing the Eco-Schools initiative, creating a domino effect, with increasing numbers of teachers across the region contacting us to join the programme and get their schools involved.

“The benefits of the Eco-Schools programme and the integration of environmental conservation into the curriculum are far-reaching. Environmental education is more important now than ever before, and the support of NWP has been invaluable.”

NWP’s sponsorship has facilitated key workshops, enabling schools to achieve green flag accreditation, and provided funding for a full-time Field Officer position within KNIB.

Sharon McMaster, Community Outreach Manager at NWP, said:

“We are thrilled to have supported the Eco-Schools programme throughout the past year and its mission to inspire the next generation of environmental stewards.

“It has been rewarding to see how the programme has empowered schools in the Derry and Strabane area to adopt more sustainable practices. This initiative is helping to create a greener future by bringing gardening and conservation skills to the next generation.”

The Eco-Schools Green Flag, awarded to schools with high achievement in their programme, is a recognised and respected eco-label for environmental education and performance.

With 2,253 active Green Flag schools across the region, Northern Ireland was the first in the world to award a Green Flag to one of its schools – Downpatrick Nursery in 1994.

NWP produces peat-free compost by recycling household food and garden waste received by local authorities across Northern Ireland, including Derry City and Strabane District Council.

Pictured left to right are Sharon McMaster, Community Outreach Manager, NWP, Feargal Friel, Principal, Hollybush Primary School, Gareth Lamrock, Eco-Schools Field Officer at Keeping Northern Ireland Beautiful and Helen Sutherland, Eco Coordinator, Hollybush Primary School with children from Hollybush Primary School as they celebrate being awarded their Green Flag again this year thanks to the Eco-Schools programme