Setting Up a School Recycling and Waste Reduction Program

Planning a successful recycling program:

1.  
Obtain top-level support from the school administration, your school district's operation and maintenance staff and your schools custodial staff. Discuss how the program can reduce costs for the school by lowering their disposal costs.

2.  
Appoint a recycling coordinator, teacher, class or club to implement your program. The best teams have students, teachers, principals, administration and parents who are willing to help.

3.  
Conduct a waste audit to determine waste composition and volume of materials, what portion can be recycled, re–used, reduced, or eliminated and what recyclable material could be substituted for non–recyclable materials currently in use. Ask your hauler if they will pickup your recycling or check the RecycleWorks Database for companies to provide that service.
Call RecycleWorks School Recycling Programs at 650–599–1424 if you'd like help with a waste audit for your site or check out:    How to Do a Waste Audit.

4.  
As a team, define your goals and ensure that each member has a role.

5.  
It is a good idea to choose one or two recyclables to start your new program (i.e. cardboard and mixed paper). Once your program is functioning smoothly, expand your program to include more recyclable materials. Focusing on recycling one commodity at a time allows you to work out the difficulties that may arise with contractual, collection, sorting and educational components.

a.  
Team members can choose the right type of collection container such as restricted openings or slots for paper to keep the garbage out of the recyclables. For more information on containers, check the buy recycled database or call the RecycleWorks hotline at 1–888–442–2666.

b.  
The team will need to determine where containers should be placed on your school sites based upon what the audit has determined. Recycling bins need to have trash receptacles next to them or your recycling containers may be used for garbage.

c.  
The recycle team will empty the collection containers bins into larger containers on site so the recycling company can pick them up. Develop this collection system with your school custodial staff. If this part of the program is not managed correctly, recyclables can find their way back into the garbage receptacles.

d.  
The team can create signs or contact local businesses as corporate sponsors and alert the local media of the program. Consider holding a kick–off event at your school site and perhaps tracking and graphing your recycling success to share with your students every month.

e.  
Based on the waste audit, the team may suggest revising existing procurement policies. They may request replacing non–recyclable items with ones that can be recycled or re–used. The team can educate students and staff through in class presentations or a school–wide assembly. Make sure to include school custodians in your education program

f.  
Some schools collect the can and bottle (CA Redemption) containers, bring them to a local recycler and use the proceeds to purchase recycling containers, fund field trips, and or have an end–of–the–year pizza party for the recycling team.

As a result of your new recycling program you will find that recyclables are being diverted from the waste stream and you are helping to keep valuable natural resources from ending up in a landfill. You may find that your school is now able to reduce the size or quantity of the waste collection dumpsters or to lower the frequency that garbage is picked–up at your school site. Not only will you save money for your school, you will be educating the next generation on the value of caring for our community and environment.