School Recycling 101: Lessons from the ACUA
Schools play an essential role in keeping our environment healthy and clean. Educating students about recycling and implementing good habits at a young age are the keys to protecting our world for years to come. Starting a school recycling program does not have to be challenging. With the ACUA’s single stream recycling program, recycling has become easier than ever because all recyclable materials can be placed together in one container. The ACUA is committed to helping your schools’ recycling program become a successful by providing collection services, presentations, tours of our facilities and other assistance. Please look over our helpful guidelines for starting a program at your school!
Read more about the five essential steps for success below - supporting documents are available for download and help is only a call away!
Call us at 609-272-6950 - we're happy to help you get your campaign up and running or to help reinvigorate and troubleshoot for an existing program.
Download the complete packet.
Here are the basic, essential steps for a successful program:
1. Form a Recycling Team
A “Recycling Team” is essential because it ensures that a recycling campaign can be launched and sustained through each school year. A school recycling team should include representatives from administration, custodial staff, teachers, students, and parents.
• Administration Will provide “top” level leadership to direct and make important decisions about the campaign
• Custodial Staff Ensures recyclables are being stored properly for collection.
• Teachers/Staff A staff member willing to initiate the program from a marketing standpoint & involve all of the teachers, students, and office staff. Teachers educate students in the classroom and motivate them through various activities
• Students Participate in the program and understand why their contribution is important
• Parents Parents are an essential piece to the puzzle because they continue the message outside of the classroom
Other individuals interested in the success of a recycling program should be invited to participate in the program, support staff, and volunteer if needed.
2. Create a Campaign
Make recycling as easy as possible with a clear and simple message:
• Explain why recycling is important for a healthy environment
• Place clearly marked containers next to trash cans wherever waste is generated: classrooms, offices, kitchen, cafeteria, playground, etc.
• Develop a plan for collecting materials inside and conveying to outside collection receptacles
• Inform parents with letters (examples provided) and include information in any promotional newsletters sent home
• Use banners and posters to reinforce the message (ACUA can provide)
3. Ensure Proper Collection
Proper collection requires convenient placement of recycling receptacles near traditional trash cans both inside and outside. Since ACUA provides single stream recycling, all items can be placed into one container. For the custodians, a successful recycling program means that there will be less garbage to collect and remove.
It is the school’s responsibility to purchase or create recycling collection bins, such as sturdy boxes, plastic crates or 5 gallon buckets, for inside classrooms, offices, teacher’s lounges, the library, cafeteria, gymnasium, etc. ACUA can provide “Mixed Recyclables” stickers to clearly mark these collection bins. While the ACUA cannot provide containers for inside collection, some schools utilize the large wheeled carts that are sometimes provided for outside collection to collect and move materials from inside to outside prior to pickup. ACUA also sells the “big bottle”— a large bottle shaped receptacle that is great for collecting bottles and cans in a cafeteria or teacher’s lounge.
Outside collection consists of having the recyclables removed by a waste hauler. In Atlantic County, the Atlantic County Utilities Authority or ACUA provides this service for free, with the exception of a few municipalities. In addition to providing the collection service, the ACUA will also provide schools with the containers needed to collect recyclables for pick up outside the building at no charge.
4. Gain Student Involvement
Recycling can be educational and fun with these suggestions for creative recycling promotion:
• View recycling as an essential part of educational development and character building for students
• Challenge students to create posters that demonstrate the importance of recycling
• Bring students on a tour of the ACUA facilities. Recycling is just part of the big picture here; students will also learn more about our solid waste and wastewater, recycling, landfill, and renewable energy projects.
• Students will learn how a simple thing such as recycling can greatly impact the environment
5. Maintain the Message
Keep your campaign fresh each year with creative ideas:
• Make a recycling jingle in music class or create posters in art class to remind students of recycling importance
• Hold recycling competitions between classrooms, lunch hours, etc. to motivate students
• Contact the ACUA for help with demonstrations throughout the year
You can do it, and ACUA can help! Call us for assistance at 609-272-6950.
Here are some additional resources:
• NJ State School Recycling Manual- plans customized for NJ Schools
• Green schools initiative- how to make your school green
• US Green Building Council- how to make your school green
• PBS Kids - short informational videos that will keep kids entertained
• American Forest and Paper Association - printable posters and plans
• Scholastic - printable lesson plans, posters, and activities
• Healthy Child Healthy World- waste-free lunch guide
• Green Planet 4 Kids- activities for kids