School recycling facts

Updated March 23, 2017

The act of recycling keeps tons of waste out of landfills every year. Schools have joined the battle for a cleaner planet. In fact, recycling programs at schools have played a key role in the diversion of waste from local landfills, according to Niagara Recycling.

Program Elements

Successful school recycling programs exist nationwide. Through these programs, students and staff members learn about environmental protection and how to contribute reusable items. The method of contribution varies from local drop-off at a recycling centre to pickup by municipal or private waste contractors.

Types of Waste Contributions

In schools, paper is the most common item recycled. This includes white office paper, mixed paper and newspapers. Aluminium cans are also abundant, from lunch packaging and soft drinks. Corrugated cardboard, magazines and plastic bottles are also often contributed. Other recycleable items from schools are glass, cooking oil from the cafeteria and motor oil and filters from the autoshop classroom.

Green Education

Students receive information on properly separating recycleables in colour-coded boxes. Through assemblies, programs, announcements, posters, contests and research projects, teachers boost students' motivation for recycling. Students learn the effects of recycling on animals and plants, natural resources, energy, air and water and the economy. The recycling program is often the subject of classroom discussions, from science to sociology.

Cost Savings for Schools

If planned and implemented correctly, recycling programs can be profitable. According to the Division of Pollution Prevention and Environmental Assistance, 77 per cent of schools in North Carolina reported having a recycling program in place. Of the participants, 29 per cent reported a net decrease in overall costs, due to the recycling program. Ten per cent of the schools collected revenue from the sale of recyclables.

Recycling Statistics for Items Found at Schools

According to, recycling in schools can have tremendous results. For example, one recycled aluminium can is enough energy to run a TV for three hours and saving aluminium cans in general saves about 95 per cent of the energy used to make cans. Recycling a mere ton of aluminium cans conserves more than 36 barrels of oil, or 1,655 gallons of gasoline. Furthermore, plastic water bottles are damaging to the environment and the production is equal to a million and a half barrels of oil. Based on this information, it is hard to believe that American citizens threw away 38 billion plastic water bottles in 2006 without recycling them.

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About the Author

Based in Toronto, Mary Jane has been writing for online magazines and databases since 2002. Her articles have appeared on the Simon & Schuster website and she received an editor's choice award in 2009. She holds a Master of Arts in psychology of language use from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.