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Forget the 3 R’s….we have 5!

Sep 10, 2013

Raise awareness, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Routinely use recycled products

Recycling and waste management are always being mentioned on the news, and many councils are now putting advanced recycling procedures in place for domestic properties in most areas.  However it’s not so easy with commercial properties with many more people to get on board the recycling bandwagon.

Schools can produce large amounts of numerous waste streams, including dry mixed recycling (paper, plastic, cardboard and glass), general mixed waste (that goes to landfill), food, medical, WEEE – the list goes on.

Producing a large amount of waste has a domino effect on everything else, such as more pickups therefore more pollution from the lorries.  Also by having more pickups it costs the school more for additional collections. There is not only the cost of having the collections; there are landfill taxes which are, unsurprisingly, constantly on the up.  In 2010/2011 landfill tax was £48.00 per tonne, in 2012/2013 it reached £64.00 per tonne and it is predicted that in 2014/2015 it is likely to be around £80.00. Landfill tax is only charged on general waste and if nothing else persuades you to get the recycling procedures put in place, this should, to start saving those £££!

I'll bet most of you will have got this far and will be and thinking to yourself ‘we already recycle I don’t need to read this’ however, I'll also bet that there is much more you can do to increase the recycling rates within your school. 

Let’s see if we can help you with a few ideas to increase awareness and decrease your waste disposal costs.

Tips & Ideas

It can sometimes be easier said than done with recycling; however as we all know the main objection to recycling is getting everyone on board.  It can be hard to get everyone putting scrap paper into a paper recycling bin and only giving out one bit of paper rather than two, but over time, with a little bit of nudging now and then it will become part of the day to day running of the school.  The school waste should then reduce and not only is it better for our environment, but it will also have a positive impact on your bank accounts!

We visited a school a few months ago that advised us that all of their food waste goes to a dog sanctuary that is in close proximity to the school. Now, I appreciate that this is not something everyone can do, but what a great message to the pupils.  Although saying that, they did have to tell the pupils that just because the waste is being given to the dogs it doesn’t mean that they can pile more on their plate so the dogs get more food!  The point here is that food waste is heavy and at the very least it should be subject to a separate food waste collection as opposed to being added to the general mixed waste.  (Food waste collections are generally lower cost than general mixed waste and in many cases bin contents are taken to an anaerobic digestion facility which is great for the environment.

So, a few simple steps to increase your recycling and reducing your waste:

  • Raise awareness
    • Display posters - these can be found for free online here.
    • Get the teachers and support staff on board to lead by example
    • Teach the pupils about recycling.  This website has great tips how to engage the pupils, from quizzes to assemblies and games. For older children there are alternative options such as ideas for recycling projects 
  •  Reduce
    • Print documents double sided when possible
    • Use both sides of the pages in a notebook rather than one
    • Only print when necessary 
  •  Reuse
    • Use printed documents that are no longer required as note making paper
    • Use bottles, card etc in art classes
    • Buy products that can be reused multiple times i.e. drink bottles
    • Reuse items such as envelopes and stick a new label over the address 
  • Recycle
    • Provide recycling bins throughout the school (the more there are the more the pupils are likely to use them)
    • Send your used printer cartridges to be recycled. Most companies will accept them back once they are finished with to ensure they are recycled 
  • Routinely use recycled products
    • Buy recycled products through your stationery company – paper, notebooks etc
    • Buy recycled bin liners

 Practice what you preach; if the pupils see the support staff and teachers recycling they will be more inclined to do it themselves. The more the pupils and teachers see the recycle logo the more it gets stuck in their mind. They will feel guilty for putting that plastic bottle into general waste and chucking that bit of paper in the bin. 

Here is a link that explains all of the recycling symbols as, let’s face it; most of us don’t know what all of the logos mean!

Remember….raise awareness, reduce, reuse, recycle and routinely use recycled products.

If you would like us to visit your school and conduct a waste management audit, please email

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