Department of Public Works
Generation Earth for Teachers: Environmental Education and Resources in Los Angeles County

Steps To Setting Up A Campus Waste Reduction/Recycling Project

The following steps provide a series of actions to help you create your Campus Waste Reduction/Recycling Project. Keep in mind that the size and scope of your project is up to you— it can be a short- duration project or a semester-long study. It can be completed in a couple of lunch periods, a couple of hours before school or it can become an in-depth project. This all depends on the schedules of participants and the level of participation deemed reasonable by students and advisors. The details should be worked out among the students, participants, advisors and representatives of the project. With that in mind, start with this basic structure and then add your creativity to create a program that works for you.

Step 1: Create a Student Green Team
Gather students who are interested in setting up a campus waste reduction or recycling project. Get a teacher to assist you as an advisor. There should be at least five students participating in this project. If fewer than five, adjustments will need to be made to the project to accommodate the school's requirements. There is no limit to the maximum number that can participate. The larger the number of participants the greater the amount of information that will be gathered and the greater the impact this project will have on your campus. Visit the student section of the website to see ideas to increase student participation.

Step 2: Create a Project Outline
What do you want to accomplish? Put together a concise written plan that includes goals, objectives, logistics and a timeline for your waste reduction or recycling project. Be realistic. Use the Project Idea Mapping tool to select the project you desire to implement. The Student Action Guides and Student Project Management Guides can also assist you in devising your plan.

Step 3: Set up a Meeting with Key Representatives
This can include other teachers on staff, a city recycling coordinator, the school principal and parents to establish the project details. You will want to establish a firm and positive relationship with the campus plant managers and staff. This could be the key to successfully establishing or expanding a recycling and waste reduction program at your campus. Plant personnel are crucial to the functioning of a campus. Your city or county recycling coordinator may be helpful in providing additional resources or materials to set up your program, such as free recycling bins, trash bags, etc.

Step 4: Research
Begin gathering info on your current campus service providers, waste hauler and/or recyclers. A copy of the service contract should be available through your principal or district office. Collect information such as pick-up schedules, container sizes, quantity and locations of bins, etc. Research where your campus' waste goes after the hauler collects it. Find out if it's sent to a Material Recovery Facility (MRF), a transfer station, a waste energy plant or to the landfill. Determine if waste is collected only from schools or if it is mixed with waste from other businesses in the area before reaching its next destination. Research other available service providers.

Step 5: Perform a Campus Waste Audit
Perform a campus waste audit. (Generation Earth project representatives are available to assist. The Generation Earth Campus Choosing to Reduce publication is also a helpful tool.) This will assist you in identifying your school's challenges, and can be used as a baseline to compare with the tracking data once you have implemented your project.

Step 6: Determine Your Goals
What can you reduce? What can you recycle? Is there any room to re-use items? Identify your goals. You may want to start simply with just a few recyclables (paper and cans are usually good commodities to start with). Think about possible contaminants to these different commodities and how to avoid them. Possible recycled commodities include:

• Paper • Plastic plates and utensils • Plastic Bottles • Corrugated cardboard • Aluminum cans • Food service waste • Wet waste (i.e., certain food types can compost) • Landscape waste vermicompost or send to local farmer) • Compostables (leaves, grass clippings, vegetable scraps, etc) • Milk and juice cartons

Step 7: Make it Happen
Working with your Student Green Team, organize the waste reduction/recycling system infrastructure for your campus! Work with local recycling coordinators and school district personnel to obtain materials. Ask your waste hauler for bins. Look for free bins, set up recycling stations and apply for grants.

Step 8: Awareness and Advertising
Have the Student Team create signs for the bins or recycling stations (be creative – use less paper, make reusable signs, etc.). Use school newspapers, newsletters, posters and assemblies to update the school about the changes in the recycling program. Keep faculty and parents in the loop. Be creative!

Step 9: Track Your Results
Monitor the system you have set up. Use the results sheet as a tracking form to determine your weekly generation and diversion rates.

Step 10: Reward and Recognize
Organize a school wide recycling contest. Award CRV monies as prizes. Ask local businesses for prize donations. Be proud of your work – submit a story about your project to the local newspaper. Submit these results weekly/monthly to your school principal. Let your peers, your teachers, your campus and your community know what you have accomplished!

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