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Environmental Services

Setting Up A School Recycling Program

The following guidelines and tips will help your school develop an effective recycling program.

Organize a Coordination Team

This team will organize and maintain the recycling program, and should include teachers, students, and parents. A project coordinator should be selected to generate enthusiasm and oversee the recycling program.

Set Program Goals

Answer these questions about the program before getting started:

Why is your school recycling?
How much money does your school want to earn?
Who will be responsible for the maintenance of the program?
How will the program operate during school vacations?
How will your school get community support, donations, and volunteers?

Look Into Available Recycling Markets

Contact recycling centers in your community to find out what materials are accepted and what prices you will be paid for them. Ask your Facility or Operatoins Manager for the name of your school's waste hauler to see if recycling is available through them, and if so find out if they will supply collection bins. Check the yellow pages or call the Environmental Services Department at (858) 694-7000 to locate recycling centers near your school.

Decide Which Recyclables to Collect

Consider the availability of labor, market prices, equipment, size of your facility, safety, storage areas, transportation of materials and your fundraising goals. You may want to start with just a few materials and grow from there. Materials typically recycled include: aluminum and steel cans, glass containers, plastic containers numbered 1 and 2, newspapers, cardboard and notebook, copier and computer paper.

Promote Your Recycling Program

The success of your program depends on good publicity. Consider planning a kick-off assembly to get students informed and interested. You may also want to make posters, distribute flyers to parents and community members, and make announcements in local newspapers and newsletters.

Types of Recycling Programs

Choose an approach that is suited to your school and the community.

Recycling Drives

A one time or occasional drive eliminates the need for long-term storage and requires shorter-term volunteer commitment. Decide what items to collect and where you will collect them. To hold a drive you must publicize it thoroughly and well in advance, asking families and students to save their recyclables for several weeks and to bring them to the school during a specific time.

Adopt a Recycling Center

Have your school make arrangements with a local recycling center and set up an account. Supporters of your school can take their recyclables to the center and request that all proceeds go to your school's account. This is one of the easiest methods of recycling because it requires no extra storage or handling of recyclables.

Operate an In-School Recycling Program

Set up bins with signs in convenient places for people to deposit recyclables at your school. This type of program can involve all students, encourage daily recycling and maximize revenues.

Establish a Community Collection Point at School

With this method, students, parents and other local residents can drop off recyclables at your school on a permanent basis. This will require investing in recycling bins and designating a convenient location.

Help Is Close By

For help starting a program, please call the following numbers:

  • For recycling information for schools, please contact your School District's Operations, Facilities, and/or Sustainability Team.
  • Not sure? All other inquiries, please call Environmental Services Department (858) 694-7000 or email