2. At School
Why It Matters
As places of learning, schools have the unique ability to teach kids good recycling practices. If children learn how to recycle in school, they’re likely to carry some of that knowledge home with them as well. Just like offices, schools use many types of paper including writing and printing paper, notebooks, folders and paper-based packaging. Think about all the items that have to be printed every day like tests, handouts and assignments. Putting a system in place to save all these resources can benefit everyone, since making recycled paper only uses 60 percent of the energy it would take to manufacture new paper.
Steps to Take
AF&PA also offers a detailed guide for starting a school recycling program, which is worth a look if you’re thinking about getting your school to start recycling. In general, they offer these basic steps to get a program up and running smoothly:
- Identify Recyclables – Conduct an audit of your paper waste to see how much and which kinds your school produces. Be sure to include classrooms, offices and libraries in your assessment.
- Decide What to Collect and Who Will Collect It – Talk with your school’s trash collector or the community’s recycler to find someone to collect and transport your paper waste. You may need to work within your school’s existing disposal contract.
- Talk with Administrators – School administrator support will be integral, and those individuals may be able to work with custodial staff to arrange collection plans.
- Choose a Coordinator – Designating a person (or group of people) to lead the project will help facilitate the process.
- Plan Collection Procedures – Choose containers, train staff and inform students.
- Phase In & Kick Off – Larger schools may wish to test programs by first recycling in certain areas to help students and staff adjust. A kick-off event can create enthusiasm and put everyone on the same page.
- Report on Results – Track the success of your program and report back to students and staff.
In addition to making sure you are recycling the proper materials and separating them if need be, schools have a few other potential recycling dilemmas you should think about ahead of time. Because of the nature of the school year, you will need to determine if recycling services will continue during school breaks. It’s also important to remind students about recycling practices after each break because they may not remember the rules after a few months away from school. You can make recycling in a school setting fun, and doing so will help keep students’ attention and raise participation. Contests between classrooms and recognition can entertain students and also help meet paper recycling goals.
AF&PA holds an annual paper recycling competition for schools, too, so consider nominating your school. The EPA also offers some tips for recycling with different age groups in schools, and paperrecycles.org provides lesson plans for teaching elementary school-age kids about paper recycling.