15 Things To Make Your Recycling Program Easier To Manage

Author: Staff Writer

Staff Writer

Teachers, administrators, and parents who have been part of starting a recycling program say time and time again how good it is for their schools and communities. But, how do you ensure the program is a success? And better yet, how do you make it manageable for staff, students, and volunteers? Here are ways to make your recycling program easier—ultimately leading to more success and more recycling.


Set-Up and Organization

With a strong set-up and good communication, you’ll have the foundation to be successful.


Recycling Bins


1. Form a green team for the school.

Creating a green team can give you a task force to get your school’s recycling efforts started strong. For free resources, including a get started guide, posters, games, and other tools, check out all the green team resources here.


2. Create a simple system and share it with everyone.

If it’s a complicated or involved recycling system, no one will do it. So, instead, try to focus on a simple system that everyone can easily implement. Get input from your students and challenge them to come up with a process that’s only three or four steps.


3. Develop a routine and be consistent.

After you have your system set, turn it into a routine. A good way to do this is by putting it in writing, so everyone gets used to the same systems—like having designated recycling days. Here are some additional tips on how to get a good routine going at school.


4. Use social media to rally support.

Social media can be really useful for reaching people where they’re already at. Ask your school IT team or admin if you can have a day of the week (or month) where you post updates on the school’s social media pages. Here are some additional tips on how to use social media to promote your recycling efforts.


5. Hold a kickoff, and invite the community to get involved.

A kickoff event can do a lot to get students excited about recycling, which in turn will get staff, parents, and the community excited. This can be a great opportunity to introduce your organizers (like your green team) and get everyone motivated. Here are more kickoff event resources.


6. Get administrators on board.

When school leadership buys into a recycling program, it’s a lot easier to get things done. Check out this guide for tips on how to get administrators on board with recycling efforts. Ask other schools how they got their administrators on board. Here are some great ideas for Recycle Rally leaders.


Recognition and Rewards

When you recognize and reward your team on a regular basis, they stay invested.


7. Set both short-term and long-term milestones.

When a new program starts, it’s easy for everyone to be motivated in the beginning. To make sure the enthusiasm doesn’t fade, have your green team (or other organizers) set short-term and long-term goals. Then be sure to celebrate each one of your school’s milestones, so everyone knows their efforts are working.


8. Turn recycling into a service project for student council.

Many school organizations, like the student council, are looking for initiatives to lead or service projects to complete. These groups can be wonderful resources for schools that need help leading recycling efforts. Don’t hesitate to reach out to groups to ask them for help. In addition to student council, you could also look into high school groups or organizations looking for projects.


9. Recognize and incentivize your volunteers.

Volunteers are key to any successful school project, but you don’t want to burn them out. Be sure to recognize your volunteers regularly and even offer them incentives. These can be small things like free coffee or thank you notes from students. If your school participates in PepsiCo Recycle Rally, you can redeem your reward points for small gifts like button pins, t-shirts, and even gift cards.


10. Find ways to recognize those doing the extra work.

Often with projects like these, a lot of the work ends up falling on the same key people. For instance, custodial or lunchroom staff might end up doing a lot of the heavy lifting with increased recycling efforts. So make sure they (or others) are recognized. This can make a huge difference in the overall success of your program.


Long-Term Impact

As you secure the support of others in the community, you’ll set the program up for long-term success.


Teens with masks cleaning up green area


11. Ask your PTO for ongoing support.

Once your recycling program is up and running, the PTO at your school can be a good ongoing support system. (Actually, they can be good for getting it up and running as well if you don’t have student council or green team resources.) In addition, PTO can often offer small financial support or help you fundraise for things like new recycling bins or having a reward system for a school contest.


12. Regularly show your school their impact.

When you see your efforts pay off, it’s a huge incentive to keep going. Here’s a poster that shows the impact of recycling. You can also use a tallying poster like this one as a strong visual in the school. For really big milestones, take time to celebrate! Perhaps a schoolwide assembly or special day will be in order. If you recycle with Recycle Rally, you can share out the details of your school’s individual impact report.


13. Be consistent across your school grounds.

When implementing a recycling program, it’s good to have consistency in all classrooms and every part of the school. This includes gyms, libraries, and athletic fields. This will help students build strong habits and make an even bigger impact. Check out more ways to be sustainable across your school grounds.


14. Tap into the support of your city or community.

Long term, your recycling efforts can go even further by coordinating with your local municipality. They can make your life so much easier by having regular pick-ups to your schools, providing extra bins, and more. In addition, you might have third-party opportunities in your community like composting companies or other organizations that can offer support to your school.


15. Document your success, and share it with your school officials.

Finally, one of the best ways to have long-term success and support of your recycling program is to show your school officials that it’s working. Be proud of your efforts! If you have the opportunity, go to a school board meeting and share pictures, videos, or even testimony from students. These will help you get support (financial or just from staff) that can be incredibly helpful long-term.


A school recycling program gives back in so many ways. These tips will help you get set up to have optimal success while also saving you time.

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