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Recycling in schools

Schools produce huge volumes of waste, much of which is recyclable.  Juice boxes, plastic beverage bottles, plastic silverware, tin cans, and PAPER; volumes and volumes of paper.  Paper for handouts, paper for homework, paper for permission slips, and paper for all those classroom projects.  So I was apalled when I volunteered in my son’s kindergarten class to find out that it all goes in the trash. I thought maybe our little school system here was just behind the times, but unfortunately it’s common.


Many states have school recycling initiatives in place.  Michigan has the Michigan Green Schools initiative. Pennsylvania has the Recycling Goes to School initiative.  New York has the Green Schools initiative.  Massachusetts has the Recycling at School program. Other states have similar initiatives or support for recycling in schools. 


Beyond the support available from state and county agencies, there are several private initiatives which can help set up recycling programs in schools.


TerraCycle is a New Jersey based company that provides free recycling to schools across the U.S.  The program targets food packaging like juice boxes and single-serve containers, and even candy wrappers.  Schools can choose the items they want to recycle, and TerraCycle will even pay for the material.


The Coca-Cola company has launched the RecycleMania program for colleges and universities.  But they have also partnered with Keep America Beautiful to provide recycling bins to schools and other community organizations through their Bin Grant Program.

Waste Management

Waste Management provides support to schools through their K-12 Education program. Waste Management performs a waste audit and then builds a recycling program around the specific needs of that school or district.

How do I get a recycling program started in my kid’s school?

Getting schools to start a recycling program isn’t always easy. It’s not that schools don’t want recycling programs, but their primary concern is always going to be costs. You will need to sell recycling on the basis of its monetary benefits.  Start by working with the PTO and the school principal. It helps if you have a couple of teachers on your side as well.  Massachusetts Recycling at School program web page has a helpful step-by-step guide to starting a recycling program in your school.

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One Comment

  1. Posted December 14, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    You Sir/Madam are the enemy of confusion eeyvrwhere!

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