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Schools as well as colleges and universities tend to be small cities that generate large amounts of solid waste. Whether a school has an extensive waste management program or is just getting recycling collection off the ground, studies have shown that virtually all schools have the potential to better reduce and dispose of their resources.

Whether you are concerned about the increasing waste disposal costs, helping the environment, or both, setting up a recycling program is the answer.

Recycling Tips:

As a result of a school recycling program, you will find that recyclables are being diverted from the environmental waste stream for your city or town. This should allow schools to reduce the size of waste collection dumpsters or frequency of pickups. By doing this the school and district can save money.

  • Involve everyone Get support and approval from top level administration. Involve all employees and students. Custodial staff should be completely educated on the recycling program.

  • Locate recycling service companies and markets for the recyclable materials. Find a waste hauler who picks up recyclable material or a local business who is in need of the material(s). You may also have a local drop off center.

  • Evaluate where the recyclable materials are generated and locate recycling bins efficiently.

    • Cafeteria - Locate bins for styrofoam, paper, cardboard, cans, bottles and plastic.

    • Administrative - Locate bins for office paper, cardboard and toner cartridges.

    • Library - Locate bins for magazines, newspaper, paper, and books.

    • Classrooms - Locate bins for paper, bottles and cans.

    • Vending areas - Locate bins for cans, glass and possibly plastic.

  • Mark recycling bins well.  Restricted openings can be used to allow only the correct size of the material that SHOULD be deposited.  For example, aluminum can bins can have a round opening the size of a can. 

  • Create a recycling system that is easy to work with. 

  • Participate in RecycleMania. Recyclemania is a friendly competition among university recycling programs in the US. During the 10-week period from late-January to early-April, schools compete to see which institution can collect the largest amount of recyclables from residence halls, on-campus apartments and dining halls. Schools report measurements on a weekly basis in pounds recycled per student living on campus. RecycleMania provides students with a fun, proactive activity in waste reduction. For more details about the competition visit www.recyclemaniacs.org.

Waste Reduction Tips

Start with a waste audit.  A waste audit will enlighten the company to volume, composition, origin points, what could be recycled, what could be reused, and what can be eliminated.  An audit is also useful to determine what materials being used that could be substituted with recyclable materials. Be sure to audit all areas of your facility for a clear picture and understanding.

  • Organize a recycling team. Involve everyone.  Staff, students, teachers, parents, custodial staff, and also public representatives. A list of local solid waste or public works departments can be found on the link. Let them know about your recycling program.

  • Perform a Waste Analysis to determine where you can reduce, reuse and recycle.

  • Identify markets for recyclables. Contact waste hauling companies and recycling companies to see what materials they process. Also contact local companies to see if they are shopping for recyclable materials. 

  • Recycling will reduce waste, so reduce the frequency of trash pick-ups.  You can then allocate these savins towards your recycling program.

  • Give rewards. Consider cash bonuses for employees who come up with fresh ideas for recycling.  Recognition could be given to students by gift certificates, field trips, certificates, posting of their name and idea in newsletters and other means.

Education is the key. Inform staff, students, teachers and families on your recycling program. Posting information on posters in common areas, in newspapers, on the school website, through emails, or other means is important to keep everyone up to date. Include information on the recycling program in student orientation packages. Give frequent updates to students and staff to keep them motivated and recognize their contributions.

The creation of an ongoing educational program for schools, colleges and universities to recognize the value of waste reduction and recycling is important. Education systems provide a learning experience to students to incorporate recycling in their lives forever. Significant costs savings can be seen by schools as well. If recycling is implemented properly for every school in the district, the savings can be significant.

Contributor / Editor - Matt Kennedy - Refer questions to info@wastecare.com


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