April 20, 2018

Start and Maintain a Materials Recycling Program

  1. Do your homework. You must do your homework before you propose a recycling program to administrators. If you are an administrator, there are things you’ll want to investigate before you implement a recycling program at your school.
    a. Determine disposal service level and costs.
    b. Conduct an informal “waste audit” for your campus.
    c. Contact recycling collectors.
  2. Get your administrator’s support. After conducting an informal waste audit and gathering information from local recyclers, you will be ready to make educated estimates of your school’s disposal service needs and opportunities for recycling. The prospect of reducing your school’s disposal costs, backed up by the information you have collected, should help to gain the support of school administrators. Having your administration’s support is important for the success of the program. Without proper backing, allocating staff and funding the program may be impossible. Keep in mind that administrative decisions are strongly influenced by economics. From an economic standpoint, a recycling program will cost money, but it will also save money, and might also make money. Only by considering all of these factors can you determine the “bottom line” for your program. Use the information you have collected to prepare an oral or written proposal to the superintendent or principal.
  3. Pick a coordinator for the program. Finding the right faculty or staff person to coordinate your recycling program is an important step. This person should have a personal interest in and enthusiasm for recycling, as well as good communication and organizational skills. The amount of time required of this person may be considerable at first. His or her involvement could taper off as the program becomes more routine. You may also want coordinators for the cafeteria, the administrative office, and each classroom. These people can help promote the importance of putting recyclables in the correct containers and keeping the wrong materials out.
  4. Select a Recycling Committee or Team. A school recycling committee or team is necessary to help organize and oversee the recycling program. One option is to use your site-based management committee. On a district-wide level include all divisions of the district. Recruit support for recycling in your school or school district from
    · custodial/janitorial staff
    · food service/cafeteria staff
    · teachers
    · student representatives
    · facilities/maintenance personnel
    · grounds personnel
    · business managers
    · district purchasing agents
    · Adopt-a-School partners
    · parent—teacher organizations
    Involve all of the above groups in planning the program from the very beginning. They will be an integral part of your success and should feel ownership of the program. Custodial staff and facility managers, for example, have special knowledge that will be vital in developing the collection system and will play a key role in the process. Make everyone aware that the school may not be reimbursed for its recycled materials. The main economic benefit is likely to be in reducing or holding down your school’s disposal costs.
  5. Develop a collections system plan. Before collection begins, work out each step involved in moving the materials from their point of generation to the collector. Make your program simple and reasonably convenient for people to use. Be sure your plan fits with the collector’s equipment and schedule. Considerations in planning the recycling system include where to collect the materials, types of containers to use, moving and handling the materials, storage, and pickup.
  6. Kick-Off the Program. It is important to take a high level of awareness about your recycling program from the start. Plan several elements to be part of your kickoff.
    · Develop a logo and slogan
    · Have a pep rally to celebrate the kick-off
    · Conduct contests and give out prizes
    · Contact the local media
    · Distribute posters
  7. Reinforce the recycling habit. After the kick off reinforce the new habit. Continual reminders will keep participation high and minimize problems. Keep everybody updated and excited about the program so they can see that their efforts are producing results. A great way to do this is through posters, announcements, bulletin boards, report cards, contests, etc.
  8. Monitor and evaluate your progress. Be especially watchful for problems during the first weeks of your recycling program. Make regular evaluations thereafter. Responding quickly and appropriately to problems is necessary for a successful program.
  9. Close the loop: buy recycled. Remember, recycling hasn’t come full circle until you purchase products made from recycled content materials. Your purchase of these products is important in stimulating recycling markets. Products with recycled content include office and computer paper, notebooks, forms, phone message pads, calculator tape, napkins, toilet paper, paper towels, and much more.

When recycling paper products, do not overlook any sources of paper. Used textbooks are often thrown out after they have been replaced. Speak to the person in charge of new textbooks to be sure the old ones go in your recycling bin. Shredded office reports could also go into your bin. Everything at schools is delivered in cardboard boxes. Those are paper products. Remember to break them down flat before throwing them in.