There are almost 32,000 schools in the UK with over ten million pupils. The average primary school child produces 45 kg per pupil per year. That’s the equivalent weight to an extra 13-year-old being created by every pupil each year. Imagine that!

Recycling as a cost saving strategy

Clearly waste management is a crucial issue for schools but from our experience they rarely have an effective strategy in place. The reasons most often given are time and money. As a result huge amounts of recyclable materials are going to landfill from our schools – and in many cases this means they are spending more of their precious resources.

In fact, recycling could be saving your school money. Significant savings can be made by reducing the amount being sent to landfill. It could also be making you money – printer cartridges, aluminium and mobile phones can all generate a small income for the school or a charity of your choice through a variety of recycling schemes.

Importance of early education

Schools are also missing a golden opportunity to educate their pupils about the benefits of recycling. Creating a recycling programme as a part of their education can teach children about different materials, how we use them; helping to create the environmentalists of tomorrow.

The reaction, particularly amongst schoolchildren, to the BBC’s Blue Planet 2 and its revelations about the effects of plastic in our oceans clearly demonstrates that there is a ready and willing generation of young people who would make the perfect ambassadors for reducing waste and recycling.

Great waste management is great PR

A good waste management programme, as unglamorous as it sounds, can also help with pupil recruitment. Include your school’s policy along with statistics about recycling in your literature. It can be an attractive prospect for families struggling under mounds of rubbish at home. If a child is learning to recycle at school, there’s a chance they will help at home – and that’s one less job for mum or dad to think about when bin day rolls round.

Make recycling part of the curriculum

The implementation of an effective waste management policy will also draw on a range of cross-curricular skills, such as teamwork, debate, problem solving.

Recycling helps provide real life context for learning and skills including data interpretation and presentation, mapping and planning. The implementation of an effective waste management policy will also draw on a range of cross-curricular skills, such as teamwork, debate, problem solving.

If you’re a head, a teacher or a school business manager and would like to introduce a comprehensive recycling system in your school, but don’t know where to begin, have a look at our downloads page. There is information to use in the classroom and printable posters to display around your recycling bins. You will also find our latest recycling bin catalogues with a range of fun designs that will help teach children about what and where to recycle.

Whole school engagement is key

Don’t make your recycling strategy a top down diktat, involve the entire school community in decisions about waste management. If children and teachers have ownership over key decisions they are far more likely to become committed participants. Use this moment of deliberation as the time to teach them how to use the new facilities and you’ll reduce the chances of contamination of unsuitable materials in your recycling bins.

Future-proof your school’s community

Put children front and centre of your school’s recycling policy and it will become clear that you are investing in their future. Long after your current pupils have left the school, a legacy will be in place for future children – and you’ll have helped to create a new generation of eco-informed adults.