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
- GRADE LEVELS:
- SUBJECT AREAS: social studies, economics, public speaking
Recycling saves energy and natural resources, reduces pollution,
and decreases production of solid waste.
To start an effective school recycling program.
- containers for recycling
- school recycling plan
The following outline is a step-by-step procedure for establishing
a recycling program in a school district.
- I. Designate a coordinator for the
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 4. Include general information about
the program in school notice and newsletters which are taken
home or are mailed to the student's parents.
- 5. To unify the program and to heighten
its visibility, use the standard recycling symbol or a recycling
slogan or mascot in all recycling publicity and on all recycling
containers. Consider sponsoring a contest to acquire a suitable
slogan or mascot, or ask the art teacher if students may design
a poster and decorate storage containers during art classes.
- 6. Publicize the recycling program
in the community-at-large via the local media. Send press releases
or contact newspapers, cable television and radio stations to
arrange coverage of the recycling program. The media will be
particularly interested in unique or unusual events such as the
announcement of the winner of the design-a-logo contest or the
arrival at a milestone (e.g., the collection of the first ton
- 7. Develop a form which can be appropriately
filled out and given to anyone whose recyclables are contaminated
with unacceptable material or whose regular garbage contains
- 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."
- Back to top