Recycle All That You Can In School
Adapted from How to Organize Effective Recycling Programs Within Schools, Morris County Solid Waste Management Office, PA
Back to Trash Goes to School

SUBJECT AREAS: social studies, economics, public speaking
CONCEPT: Recycling saves energy and natural resources, reduces pollution, and decreases production of solid waste.
OBJECTIVE: To start an effective school recycling program.
containers for recycling
school recycling plan
KEYWORDS: natural resources
PROCEDURE: The following outline is a step-by-step procedure for establishing a recycling program in a school district.
I. Designate a coordinator for the recycling program.
A. The more people you get involved, the more successful your program will be. School administrators, janitors, teachers and students should be included.
II. Choose a method of marketing the recyclables. The following are some alternatives:
- Make arrangements with the municipality to collect the material on a regular basis at a specific location on the school grounds, or
- Transport the material in a school-owned vehicle to a municipal recycling center, or
- Arrange for collection of material by a recycling vendor.
III. Keeping in mind that recycling-related costs will have to be included in the annual budget, undertake a study to estimate future recycling costs. Consider the costs to be incurred for personnel, miscellaneous supplies (for publicity purposes), storage containers (for offices, classrooms, cafeterias, libraries and central storage locations) and transportation.
IV. Determine what materials are to be recycled.
A. Schools can recycle high-grade paper (some examples are lined composition paper, photocopy paper, letterhead, memo paper, computer paper) generated in administrative offices and classrooms.
B. Schools may consider recycling newspaper, corrugated cardboard, aluminum beverage cans, plastic, and glass (food and beverage containers) to further reduce their solid waste stream. Contact your local Recycling Coordinator to find out what is currently recyclable in your area. Composting of yard wastes (brush and leaves) might also be considered.
V. Establish a system for separating, collecting and storing recyclables.
A. Where recyclables will be safely and conveniently deposited in offices,
1. Place properly-labeled containers for paper in the front of each classroom. Comply with whatever restrictions dealers have placed on what types of paper they will accept. Be sure to comply with health, fire and safety codes when selecting and placing containers (metal, rather than paper containers may be preferable in some instances).
2. Place well-marked bins for aluminum and glass near wastebaskets in all areas where food is prepared or eaten. Limiting the openings to recycling containers often helps to alert users that they are not garbage receptacles, i.e., a small hole for cans and bottles).
3. Find an area for flattening, bundling and storing corrugated cardboard and storing newspaper.
B. Decide who will collect recyclables, how frequently the collection will occur and what equipment will be necessary. A sample plan follows:
1. Custodians collect material throughout the school facilities every Friday afternoon by placing each type of recyclable material in a special garbage can, bin or hamper.
2. Custodians then take recyclables to a designated storage area on the school grounds (within a school building proper, in a shed, in a roll-off container or dumpster) until they can be marketed.
C. Educate the school community about the program.
1. Send a memo detailing the program to administrators, teachers, and staff.
2. Schedule time for explaining the program. The education can be done by students, teachers, administrators, or recycling coordinators. Sometimes, the message is better received when delivered by students.
a. Explain the necessity for recycling in the school by referring to the state recycling law, environmental needs, and the fact that we are throwing away valuable resources.
b. Explain how the program will work, including the following:
i. Show samples of the materials to be recycled. Some markets also accept materials such as magazines and corrugated cardboard mixed with office paper. It is important to discuss with your markets what materials will be acceptable.
ii. Explain the importance of keeping recycling containers free of contaminants (e.g., chewing gum, food waste, paper napkins/towels/tissues, waxed paper, aluminum foil, plastics, paper clips.) Note: Staples are generally not considered a contaminant.
iii. Explain where the various recyclables should be deposited within each room and when they will be collected from individual rooms.
iv. Let people know who the program coordinator is so he or she can assist and be notified if there are any problems.
3. Display recycling poster and set up displays in prominent locations in the schools.
F. Setting good examples for youth to follow is an important task for the schools. If children develop the recycling habit in school, they will probably practice recycling at home and elsewhere in the community; thus the school should be proud of its efforts to "give its trash a second chance."
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