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Recycle Guys

Setting Up A School Recycling Program

The key to a school recycling program is to get everyone involved.

Recycling programs should be kept simple at the start. Any implementation should be fairly easy to handle or there will be a rapid die-off in enthusiasm and results. The messages that students get about recycling should be clear and positive.

Step One   

First, students, faculty and administration need to decide how to proceed with a sound recycling program. Questions like, "what kinds of recyclable waste does the school produce?" (mainly paper and aluminum cans) and "how will the recyclables get to recycling centers" needs to be asked.

A recycling program may start as a "recycling club" activity, with the leadership changing to administrative staff as the program grows into a permanent school function. Eventually, it is probably desirable that the recycling coordinator be housed with a complementary function like custodial services, maintenance and operations. The recycling coordinator or recycling contact person will want to keep students motivated and the program running smoothly.

Step Two 

The next step in your "learn-by-doing recycling program" is to find out who will take the collected recyclables. To help you, the City of Fort Collins Natural Resources Division produces a Recycling Center Directory for Fort Collins that lists recycling centers and drop-off sites for various materials that can be recycled locally.

Step Three  

Finally the program is put in gear, with either students, maintenance people, or the school district's trash hauler collecting materials.

Waste-Not Recycling currently has an agreement with the Poudre School District R-1 to collect recycle items from schools in the district.  Contact Waste-Not Recycling at 1-800-584-9912 for more details.


Each classroom should be provided with recycling containers -- waste baskets or small cardboard boxes can be used for this purpose. Larger collection bins should be placed in hallways. And don't leave out offices -- every office employee discards an average of 1.5 pounds of recyclable waste paper per day. Each bin should be clearly labeled indicating what item(s) go inside.

It is important to get the kids recycling from the start. This helps to reinforce the "hands-on" emphasis of the program, where students learn new habits and values to become environmentally responsible citizens.

If the janitors are not involved in the collection of the recyclables, make sure that they are informed about the program so that they don't accidentally mix the paper with the regular trash and throw it away.


Find student monitors (or volunteers) who will:

  • have the task of emptying the classroom containers and hall containers
  • oversee the collection container(s) in their area and spot check for contaminants (nonrecyclable items)
  • inform new students about the recycling program
  • remind students which materials are and are not acceptable for recycling
  • encourage participation


Here are some ideas for promoting your school recycling program to students:

  • Make posters and banners!
  • Track the volume of materials the school collects for recycling and translate the figures into how much energy or natural resources were saved.
  • Have contests between classrooms.
  • Show recycling and waste reduction videos (check your school's media center).
  • Take a field trip to the Larimer County Recycling Center to see recyclable materials processed.  The facility is located at the landfill, 5887 So. Taft Hill Road, (970) 226-1101.
  • Contact the Larimer County Recycling Center or Waste-Not Recycling for classroom presentations.


Did You Know

Every ton of paper recycled:
  • Saves 17 trees
  • Saves 4,100 kWh of energy
  • Saves 7,000 gallons of water
  • Reduces air pollution by 60 pounds
  • Saves 3 cubic yards of landfill
Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to run a TV for 3 hours.
Every glass bottle recycled saves enough energy to light a 100-watt light bulb for 4 hours.