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Wastes—Educational Materials

Tools to Reduce Waste in Schools

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EPA’s Tools to Reduce Waste in Schools helps your school and school district reduce the amount of waste you generate. You’ll learn how to start a waste reduction program or expand an existing one. The guide will show you how your program can benefit your school, your community, and the environment by reducing, reusing, and recycling your waste.

Download Tools to Reduce Waste in Schools (PDF) (44 pp, 933K)

The appendices provide you with forms to track your results, lists of recyclable materials, links to additional resources, and questions to ask potential waste and recycling haulers. These materials used in conjunction with the Tools to Reduce Waste in Schools guide will help you get your program off the ground and keep it running for years.

Appendix A: Conducting a Waste Assessment (PDF) (13 pp, 248K)
Learn how to determine the type and amount of waste your school or school district produces so that you can develop an appropriate waste reduction program.

Appendix B: Common Recyclable Materials (PDF) (2 pp, 31K)
Use this list to determine which materials would be most appropriate for your school or school district to recycle.

Appendix C: Screening Criteria (PDF) (1 pg, 17K)
Determine the best waste reduction plan for your school by using this criteria to screen out program options that do not meet your waste reduction needs.

Appendix D: Operational Feasibility (PDF) (1 pg, 15K)
Decide if the waste reduction program you would like to implement in your school or school district is feasible given several factors specific to your locale.

Appendix E: Tracking (PDF) (6 pp, 84K)
Learn how to track the results of your waste assessments so that you can determine the best waste reduction program to meet your needs, and view tracking sheet samples.

Appendix F: Waste Reduction Ideas and Goals (PDF) (3 pp, 33K)
Choose any or all of these suggested waste reduction activities to implement in your waste reduction program.

Appendix G: Questions to Ask Potential Buyers of Recyclables (PDF) (2 pp, 19K)
Learn what questions to ask potential buyers of recycled material if you need to set up recycling collection in your school or school district.

Appendix H: Sample Letter to Parent or Guardian/Permission Slip (PDF) (2 pp, 15K)
Use this sample letter and form to let your student’s parent or guardian know about your school or school district’s efforts to start a waste reduction program at school and get permission for students to participate.

Appendix I: Loudspeaker Announcements (PDF) (1 pg, 25K)
Promote your waste reduction program to your school or school district by using these sample loudspeaker, television, and bulletin announcements.

Appendix J: Sample Press Release (PDF) (1 pg, 14K)
Announce the kick-off of your waste reduction program to others in your school district and community by issuing a press release to newspapers and other media. Use this sample press release to get started.

Appendix K: Sample Container Signs (PDF) (1 pg, 100K)
Help avoid contamination in recycling containers by placing signs like these on your bins.

Appendix L: Contamination Coupon (PDF) (1 pg, 30K)
Distribute these coupons to students, teachers, and staff that are seen throwing trash in recycling containers, throwing recycling in trash bins, or putting recyclable materials in the wrong containers.

Appendix M: Factoids (PDF) (2 pp, 28K)
Measure and promote the impacts of your school’s waste prevention and recycling program through these environmental factoids.

Appendix N: Troubleshooting (PDF) (1 pg, 34K)
Stop problems with a waste reduction program before they get started by learning about some of the typical waste reduction program issues, including contamination.

Appendix O: Program Assessment and Re-evaluation (PDF) (1 pg, 22K)
Evaluate your waste reduction program by asking participants and leaders several key questions.


Tips to reduce waste

Drag the recyclables off the conveyor belt and put them in the correct bins.
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Tips to reduce waste
  • Use products made with recycled materials
  • Use energy-efficient light bulbs and rechargeable batteries
  • Shop with cloth bags
  • Reuse plastic bags, cups, containers, etc.
  • Repair items instead of throwing them away.
  • Compost your food and yard waste.

Learn more about reducing, reusing, and recycling.

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