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Facility and Efficiency Improvements Concerning Waste Reduction and Recycling for a Healthy School Environment

On this page:

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Planet Protectors ClubGet recycling basics, information on used electronics and composting and links to what you can do in your community, for:

Why It's Important

  • Schools accumulate tons of waste—from paper and computers to food and books. Waste reduction makes good business sense because it can save money through reduced purchasing and waste disposal costs.
  • Schools may bring in additional revenue by selling recyclables that have financial value.
  • Properly handling waste influences the future of the school and its students, and can also have a significant impact on the environment. 

What You Can Do

  • Follow the four rules of waste reduction:
    • Reduce—prevent waste generation by purchasing, consuming and throwing away less
    • Reuse—repair, donate or sell items
    • Recycle—collect recyclables to prevent the need to harvest new materials from the Earth
    • Buy Recycled—purchase products made of recycled materials
  • Use EPA's Tools to Reduce Waste in Schools to implement new, or expand upon existing, waste reduction programs.    


EPA and Federal Partners

  • EPA's WasteWise Program  is a free, voluntary program through which organizations can eliminate costly municipal solid waste, benefiting their bottom line and the environment. The program enables partners to design their own solid waste reduction programs tailored to their needs.
  • Tips for a Waste-Less School Year by EPA provides consumer tips to reuse common materials, choose nontoxic alternatives and increase recycling efforts.
  • EPA's sustainable materials management provides facts and figures about waste management in each state across the U.S. 
  • EPA's composting webpage discusses different types of composting and things to think about when considring what approach to take.
  • EPA's Sensible Steps for Healthier School Environments provides an overview of issues related to waste reduction in schools. 
  • EPA's Food Recovery Challenge encourages organizations to to improve their sustainable food management practices and report their results. Participants prevent and divert wasted food in their operations, and any organization can join as a participant or endorser.

The following links exit the site Exit

National Organizations

  • Hazardous Materials in Schools: Resource List by the National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities offers an annotated list of links, books and journal articles on the identification, treatment, storage and removal of hazardous materials found in school buildings and grounds.

You may need a PDF reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA’s About PDF page to learn more.

State and Local Entities

  • Food Scrap Management by the California Integrated Waste Management Board provides information and resources to help reduce food waste and save money on disposal costs. Resources include food scrap prevention tips, lists of local food banks and food rescue programs, and onsite and offsite composting options. Regional compost workshops and special event information is also available.
  • Waste Chemical Disposal Guidance for Schools (PDF)(46pp, 363K) by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment helps those responsible for administering or improving waste management programs at local schools throughout Kansas. This document provides information regarding non-hazardous and hazardous waste, but does not prescribe in detail all required factors and considerations for their management.
  • The Waste Reduction Awareness Program (WRAP) from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, developed in partnership with the Association of Oregon Recyclers, recognizes school waste reduction programs that are permanently integrated into school operations and classroom curricula.
  • School Composting: A Manual for Connecticut Schools (PDF)(98pp, 3.4M) by Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection the outlines the steps necessary for establishing and maintaining a successful school-wide composting program for cafeteria food scraps.
  • Waste and Recycling Resources for Kids and Teachers by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection provides resources including how to start a school recycling program as well as curricula, activities, displays and presentations.