School Recycling Programs

How to Start a School Recycling Program

(Updated August 3, 2020)  It’s back to school time around Chicago, and it’s no secret that a top priority for a lot of schools is saving or making money. If your school is looking for ways to go green while saving green, a school recycling program is a great place to start.



Get Buy-In

School recycling programs will only be successful if you have buy-in from the top. Administration, custodial, and maintenance staff have to be committed to a recycling program for school before you can begin implementing processes with teachers and students. To get this buy-in, talk about the benefits of school recycling programs, such as:

  • Reduced waste pickup and disposal costs
  • Reuse of paper and other recyclable materials saves resources and keeps them out of the waste stream
  • Collections of cans and bottles can be returned to recycle centers for cash to fund school programs

Choose A Team

A good mix of students, teachers, parents, and administration can help promote the program at all levels. Ask for volunteers and choose a team of enthusiastic individuals who are committed to making a difference through recycling at your school.

Get A Waste Audit

First, find out if your current waste management vendor offers recycling programs. And if so, find out what the specifics are. If there is no recycling program available, contact a local recycling company like Combined Resources Inc.

Many recycling companies, like CRI, offer free recycling audits to analyze your current waste stream and identify what can be recycled, reduced, or reused to minimize your environmental impact. Additionally, a private recycling firm can collect and sell your valuable materials, such as aluminum, and return the profits to your school minus their fee.

teacher and kids using a school recycling programDecide What To Recycle

After your recycling audit, you will have a clear picture of the type and amount of waste you produce and what kind of recycling programs will have the biggest impact. Most schools throw out a lot of paper and cardboard, and these are easy to collect and recycle at schools. Depending on your school’s philosophies and initiatives, plastic and metal may or may not have a place in your program. For example, some schools encourage reusable plastic water bottles and discourage disposable ones. Other schools with healthy eating initiatives banned soda machines and so will likely have little need for metal recycling.

Create Awareness

Once you have the logistics in place, it’s time to educate and create awareness with fellow students and teachers to recycle at school. Make recycling fun and easy to do, and you’ll find that it quickly becomes a part of your school culture.

Contact Combined Resources In Chicago For Your Free Audit

Ready to get started on your school recycling program? CRI has all the resources you need to succeed. Schedule your free recycling audit now at 630.693.0111, then let us help you implement a program that helps your school recycle, reduce, and reuse to minimize your environmental impact.

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