How to Start a Recycling Program at School

To create a society where we live more sustainably, we need to begin with education. And what better place to start than with kids at school? If we want to change how we look after our planet, we need to raise the next generation to be more environmentally responsible. While there are many ways to approach this, a recycling program is an easy and effective way to begin.

What is a Recycling Program?

Recycling programs relate to how you dispose of waste at your school. For recycling programs for schools K-12, you’ll need to consider what materials you use the most and then determine the best way to dispose of them. Paper and plastics, for example, can be recycled instead of being thrown in the trash. Some materials can even be repurposed, making fun art and crafts projects.

In the U.S., a typical school uses an average of 2,000 sheets of paper daily, equating to 320,000 sheets each school year. That’s around 32 billion sheets of paper annually across the U.S., which provides an incredible opportunity to recycle and contribute to improving our planet.

Steps to starting your recycling program

If you’re ready to get started, it’s easy with the following steps. 

#1 – Do your research

Before you rush in, it’s good to find out if your school has tried any recycling efforts in the past. You can find out what worked, any issues, and why the program didn’t last, so you don’t make the same mistakes.

It’s also important to investigate your area’s local waste and recycling laws, so you can set up the program to meet these requirements. Consider the type of waste your school produces and how you collect garbage, including the frequency of pick-ups, costs, and other relevant information to help you build your plan.

Another critical area of support is funding. If you need to establish the program’s financing and have a limited budget, many grants are available to help, such as green government grants in your state. Do some research and see what’s available. Having this information available before you seek support will demonstrate your commitment to the program.

#2 – Get support for the program

Getting buy-in from your school leaders, staff, students, and parents is a great way to get your recycling program established. Seek their input and feedback to help set up the program so that everyone understands its purpose. Try to make it as easy as possible for anyone to contribute and share ideas.

#3 – Establish a team to run the program

If you want the kids to be actively involved, consider establishing a team responsible for promoting the recycling program, championed by a staff member, and including parents and custodial staff to get their buy-in. Not only is it a great way to spread the word about the program, but it’s an excellent way to give your students leadership opportunities and extra responsibility.

#4 – Plan your program

Once you’ve done your research and have a dedicated team and plenty of support, it’s time to get planning. You’ll need to consider collection points, how many recycling bins you need, where you’ll put them, and what materials you’ll be recycling. When choosing your bins, consider the best places to position them in your school.

Try to make recycling as straightforward as possible. For example, it helps to use consistent graphics and colors, so everyone can easily work out where to dispose of their waste.

#5 – Promote your program

Use the communication channels available to you to talk about the program, why you’re doing it, the difference it will make, and how easy it is to get involved. Consider printing posters for classrooms, hallways, and the cafeteria. Get your school leaders to promote it at assemblies and regularly write about it in your school newsletter, your website, and the social media channels you use to engage parents and community members.

You can also look at ways to embed ecological literacy into your curriculum, creating lessons or activities about the impact of recycling and its importance to the ongoing sustainability of our environment.

#6 – Monitor and promote your achievements

To build a successful recycling program, regularly monitoring its progress is essential. Check in with the janitorial staff to find out what’s working or if any improvements are needed. Get their feedback on any issues to make changes. For example, if students aren’t sorting their recycling effectively, consider a program about how to do this correctly.

Communicate and celebrate your program’s successes when you hit key milestones. If you end up making a profit from your program, share how you’ll use this money, like putting it towards special events, activities, or equipment for the school, to help demonstrate the value of your program.

Want to do more?

An often-overlooked recycling opportunity is textiles. Families often grow out of their clothes and need a proper place to recycle them. Setting up a textile recycling bin at your school can make it easy for staff and students to contribute and positively impact your recycling program. Plus, Clothes Bin® markets itself, making it easy to manage.

Request information on a Clothes Bin® Recycling Franchise

Clothes Bin® is a nationwide low-cost franchise system that aims to promote environmental stewardship. Our franchisees own and operate clothing and textile recycling Bins to help reduce the number of textiles in landfills. Not only is it great for the environment, but it’s also simple to manage a semi-absentee system, so it’s great for teachers looking for a side hustle.

We specialize in clothing recycling franchises for colleges and schools and can help you jumpstart your school’s program. If you’re interested in learning more about a clothing recycling franchise opportunity with Clothes Bin®, simply request more information, and we’ll be in touch.