Resources for Teachers: How to Reduce Waste in Schools

Resources for Teachers: How to Reduce Waste in Schools

Schools dump huge amounts of waste every day, which ends up in landfills, which means we lose valuable resources.

Most of the waste in schools is recyclable. However, schools currently only recycle a small percentage of their waste.

A large proportion of school waste is food, paper and cardboard (75% by weight from primary schools and 70% by weight from secondary schools). In general, it is more expensive to dispose of waste in landfills than to recycle it.

1. Try to stop producing waste first!

Work with students to conduct a school waste audit on the amount of waste produced, then classify the different types of waste and identify waste “hot spots” within the school.

Develop an action plan to address your school's waste. Track your progress with regular monitoring and measurements.

Learn more: Reducing your waste is a much better option, environmentally and financially, than recycling or disposing of any other waste. You can also lower your trash costs.

2. Reuse: think before you throw things out.

Encourage students to use reusable bottles for drinks. Install water fountains around the school and encourage students to drink water from the tap.

Refill and reuse your old printer cartridges. It is often cheaper to refill than to buy a new one. Cartridges can also take hundreds of years to decompose in the landfill.

Stationery: Reuse old envelopes for internal mail or stick a new label over the old address. Do the same for old paper or plastic folders.

Furniture: Repair or repaint furniture to extend its life.

3. Recycle: Recycling old products into new ones saves raw materials and energy

Find out from your waste service provider what recycling services they offer, some of these may be free. Start with the largest or most popular flows, such as paper, cardboard, cans, glass containers, plastic bottles, and cartons.

You can configure schematics for smaller, more specialized transmissions, such as ink cartridges, light bulbs, batteries, and CDs.

Make recycling easy by placing recycling bins in sensitive areas, like next to printers and copiers, classrooms, and in the staff lounge! These areas can be identified from a waste audit.

Use clear posters and signs to encourage everyone to use recycling bins, and use them correctly, so this becomes second nature

There is no limit to the amount you can recycle. With careful shopping, determination, and good recycling services, you could aspire to be a zero-waste school!

4. Trade in or give away!

Make it easy for students and their families to trade, donate, and trade second-hand uniforms.

Establish a scheme to collect old ink cartridges and cell phones from the local community; some charities are willing to accept them to help raise funds.

Old books and computers can be shipped overseas through donation schemes, but check that procedures are in place to maintain the equipment and properly dispose of it at the end of its useful life.

Could someone else use your junk items? Why not donate them to a local charity store, advertise on Freecycle or Freegle, or exchange them on "swap stores" or "give and take" days.

5. Control paper and card waste.

Place waste paper trays in every classroom and in the front office, copier room, and other places where a lot of paper is generated.

Make double-sided printing and photocopying the default, or add clear instructions next to the printers on how this can be done manually. Conduct short staff training sessions to make this approach routine.

Make black printing the default setting on printers, copiers, and MFPs; This will significantly reduce your costs per copy and also the amount of expensive color toners you will need to purchase.

When recycling cardboard boxes, flatten them first to minimize space.

You can also feed cardboard into your composting bins.

More information: paper and card contribute about a third of all school waste. It's easy to make more efficient use of your paper and card, and recycle it when you're done. It also saves money.

6. Reduce your school's food and packaging waste

Incorporate composting into science lessons or eco / garden clubs. Understanding that there is no waste in nature, only food for other species, can be inspiring for everyone.

You may be able to arrange a food waste collection through your waste service provider. (Not everyone takes leftover food or meat and fish products.) Encourage waste-free lunches by reducing food packaging, disposable and single-use items, etc.

Encourage healthy eating at school by not recommending potato chips, candy, or soda days. All of these items produce waste. Avoid using plastic cups, silverware, and plates at school, as recycling is difficult. Use porcelain cups and reusable silverware in staff rooms and in snack and meal areas.

Use student feedback to develop new menus, serving sizes, and favorite fruits and vegetables, as this will reduce food waste.

Additional Information: Food waste accounts for more than a third or more of school waste by weight. It rots in landfills that produce methane, a gas more powerful than carbon dioxide in creating climate change.

7. Shopping

Buy paper, pencils, and other stationary products made from 100% recycled materials if possible.

Ask your suppliers to deliver items in returnable containers, or that can be recycled; they should help you reduce your waste, without increasing your waste problem.

Be on the lookout for “junk warehouses” that collect items from local businesses and make them available to schools at very low cost. Additional information: Procurement is responsible for a large part of schools' carbon emissions, that is, the emissions linked to the manufacture of the goods and services that schools purchase. Sustainable procurement is now recognized as good for efficiency, value for money, fair trade and the environment; in short, it is the best option for schools.

8. Use the power of the web

Encourage staff to save and read documents electronically.

Send out email newsletters and keep your website useful and up-to-date. The use of email, document scanning, intranets, and online information can help reduce paper use (and paper purchasing costs) if managed responsibly.

9. Think of the whole school, and think big

Student-led initiatives work well, and students take charge of waste audits, monitoring, and advertising campaigns.

Regularly announce and celebrate waste success at school assemblies, staff meetings, newsletters, and on the school website.

Use bulletin boards and displays around the school to make waste minimization central to the spirit of the school

Get the cleaners on your side - make sure they are familiar with what can be recycled and that you are emptying them into the correct external containers. Learn More: The entire school supports successful school waste initiatives and depends on everyone being aware and involved.

10. Create movements beyond the school gate

Be vocal about the message: pass information to parents and caregivers, and show them what the school is doing and what impact it is having.

Get in touch with the local community and environmental groups and put your knowledge to use in school initiatives. They may be able to help with composting, school gardens, or have ideas on how to use waste materials.

Learn More: Working with the broader school community can give students the opportunity to bring positive change to a much broader group of people. Important life skills can be acquired, and the school can develop your local, and perhaps even national, reputation.

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Video: How to Manage Paper Waste in School. Recycling and Waste Reduction Management Idea for Schools (July 2021).