How To Establish a School Recycling Routine

Routines make everything easier!

Recycling can be fun and organized! A school recycling routine makes daily, weekly, and monthly recycling collections and tallying simple.


Create a Collection Plan


Dedicate a certain room or closet to store recyclables until you can tally them and send them off to the recycling center.

  • Download the Recycle Rally tally sheets or make your own. Keep copies handy for tallying totals.
  • Look for space with an easy-to-clean table, sufficient storage, access to a drain and running water, and a cupboard for storing supplies.
  • If space is limited, schedule rotating shifts of volunteers to handle and tally recycling on a daily basis.


Be Where the Recyclables Are


  • Identify the top five places in your school where people use recyclables, and
    provide bins at those locations. (Think cafeterias, copy rooms, etc.)
  • Host a Clear-Out-Your-Cupholder Day once a week for people driving through the parking lot. Have a crew of students and teachers stand out front with bags to help collect plastic bottles and cans.
  • Work with concessioners at sporting events to collect recyclables.


Assign Regular Duties


  • Use the School Recycling Task List to keep track of the who, what, where, and when. It’s customizable for your own school recycling routine.
  • Post a calendar so students know who’s next. Rotating responsibilities across your Green Team allows each student to be the lead for one week or one day a month.
  • Alternatively, assign zones! Give each participant a zone or group of pickup stations that they are responsible for emptying and tallying regularly. Use the Recycling Bin Audit form to help you keep track.
  • Remember to log your information. Tracking recycling in your Recycle Rally account is easy. To help remember to do it, it may be helpful to set up a recurring meeting on your digital calendar.


Let Your Bins Do the Talking!


Clearly communicate recycling to minimize confusion and contamination.

  • Customize bins to speak to your needs. Design or decorate them using common inexpensive methods.
  • A round hole as the opening of your bin is a universal cue that bottles or cans are accepted in this bin.
  • Use different sizes where necessary. Larger bins placed in high-volume areas will yield more recyclables.
  • Use color to distinguish which materials belong in each bin (e.g., blue for recyclables, green for compostables, and black for landfill-bound trash).
  • Maximize impact by referencing the Bin Placement Guide for proper placement.


Real Talk on Creating a School Recycling Routine


Check out these tips from star schools! They’ve each created their own effective school recycling routine.


“We have a regularly scheduled recycling pickup day/time for each grade level. This keeps us very organized.” –Taylorsville Elementary School


“We recycle from 4 to 5 p.m. after school and provide snacks for students when recycling is completed.” –Stroman Middle School


“Delegate and create Green Teams. Middle school students each take a classroom and are the ambassadors for that classroom, collecting and communicating reminders.” –Liberty Tech Charter School


“We delegate collection by grade levels each week. Rotating who empties the bins from small to medium to the largest bin that needs to be put out for pick up.” –Boca Raton Christian School


“Students keep a running tally on my whiteboard. I enter the numbers weekly and give updates that day on the morning announcements.” –West Carroll High School

Creating a Routine

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