School/Campus Recycling Program

School/Campus Recycling Program

The following is for guidance information only. Your school or campus may have recyclable materials specific to your campus. Each school or campus should closely examine all the materials that are being generated and discarded and begin to look at those materials that can be recycled.

What materials should a school or campus collect in a recycling program?

  • Newspapers
  • Aluminum Cans
  • Office Paper
  • Corrugated Boxes
  • Computers
  • Used Motor Oil
  • Laser/Ink-jet Cartridges
  • Fluorescent Lamps
  • Rechargeable Batteries
What type of collection containers or other storage containers are needed to collect recyclable materials for a school or campus recycling program?

The type of containers used for collection of materials will largely depend on whether this is a program for a county or city school, or for a larger community college/university campus.

A county or city school should have collection bins in each room for collection of paper. This paper would then once a week be emptied into a larger central collection container located outside the building possibly near the garbage dumpster where it can then be serviced by a local paper recycler. Collection containers with good signage should be placed in the hallway for collection of aluminum cans and plastic bottles. Always locate a garbage container next to any recycling bin to reduce the chances of contamination. A dumpster or other container for corrugated boxes should also be provided near the garbage dumpster. Collection containers could also be provided to the cafeteria staff for recycling of steel cans and vegetable scraps. Finally, a container centrally located near the administrative area could be established for the collection of laser and ink-jet printer cartridges and rechargeable batteries.

College and university campuses would be slightly different but the same issues apply. Campuses may want to target buildings initially that generate the highest volumes of office paper, but also provide for aluminum can and plastic bottle recycling in each building. Often time larger campuses can reap the benefits of having a vertical or horizontal baler on-site for baling corrugated boxes. Corrugated boxes represent approximately 20 to 30% of the solid waste stream for a campus and removing it along with office paper generally gives you the biggest bang for the buck. MDEQ has numerous examples of colleges and universities in the state with on-going recycling programs that we can share with campuses that are looking at establishing their own program.

In addition, the Recycling and Solid Waste Reduction Program has developed materials contained in a 3-ring binder listing manufacturers of recycling collection containers, curbside bins, carts, storage bins and trailers. The binder has brochures as well as contact information on each manufacturer of recycling collection equipment. Contact the Recycling and Solid Waste Reduction Program staff at MDEQ and we'll be happy to send out on loan a copy of this binder. Click here on Recycling Container Manufacturers to view a list of manufacturers of various recycling collection and storage containers. Many of the recycling container/trailer manufacturers are also on our Recycling Links page. Click here on Links to Recycling Container/Trailer Manufacturers.

What type of equipment is needed to operate an school or campus recycling program?

The only equipment that would be needed for a school or campus recycling program would include a vertical or horizontal baler and a pallet jack to move the bales of corrugated boxes after they have been baled. This would only be necessary if a local collector of corrugated boxes is not available to pickup corrugated boxes. In some cases with larger campuses or school districts, a baler can often show a payback of less than two years depending on the quantity of corrugated boxes generated at the campus. Obviously larger campuses such as universities may need additional equipment due to the larger quantities of materials being collected. Generally this will include a forklift and a large paper shredder for confidential materials. Click here on Recycling Equipment to view information detailing recycling processing equipment.

How should recyclable materials be processed for marketing?

Often there is no need to process any type of school or campus recyclable material other than corrugated boxes. Most of these materials can be collected from the school or campus by a local recycler in the containers where they are stored. This will have to be discussed with your local recycler. Click here on Processing Recyclable Materials to view information on processing these materials.

Where can collected/processed materials be marketed?

The Recycling and Solid Waste Reduction Program has compiled a list of markets for various recyclable materials. Click here on Recycling Directories to view these directories. The State-wide Recycling Directory lists profit and non-profit recycling facilities in the state which accept a wide range of materials including metals, paper, and plastics. There is also a number of directories for specific materials including paper, plastics, scrap tires, used motor oil, fluorescent lamps and mercury and computer/electronics. If you have any questions on materials which are not listed in these directories, contact our program and we'll be glad to assist you.

How should participants in the program be educated on recycling?

Education is the key to a successful recycling program in any school or campus. The more you can educate, the higher the participation you will have, the less contaminants you'll find in the collected materials, the fewer complaints you'll receive, the more efficient your program will be in the long run, and the lower your garbage bill will be each month. At minimum you should provide quarterly flyers or e-mails to school or college/university staff and the campus newsletter to continually remind people on program issues, alert them of contamination problems and notify them of any changes in the program. Similarly, you should meet with the janitorial staff to see what issues arise with the program and how problems can be resolved. The Recycling and Solid Waste Reduction Program has numerous resources that can assist your school or campus in educating your staff on recycling. We have samples of recycling education flyers, educational resources, trained recycling education speakers, and presentation materials. Just contact us and let us know what assistance you need.

Where can the savings be found in establishing an school or campus recycling program?

Great question, but a very simple answer. Monitor for one month the garbage dumpster at your school or campus. If it is a 4 yard to 12 yard dumpster, it is important to look in the dumpster just prior to pickup by the garbage contractor to see if the dumpster is being used to near capacity. If you have a recycling program established for paper and corrugated boxes, your garbage dumpster may not be full when the garbage contractor picks it up. Remember, whether your garbage container is completely full or nearly empty, you're charged the same amount when they service your dumpster. You should then either reduce the size of your garbage dumpster or the frequency of pickup. This is where the savings begin to show up in a school or campus recycling program. If you have a garbage compactor, consider having a pressure gauge installed on the ram head hydraulic line. The specifications for that compactor will state what the design maximum pressure should be for that unit. Often these compactors will need annual maintenance and this can show up as lower pressure reading on the gauge. Without annual maintenance, the compactor will "pack out" prior to design capacity and cost the facility unnecessary pull charges. The cost of installing this pressure gauge will pay for itself in less than a year.