School Waste Reduction
Enlisting participation and support from various levels within a school district; the school board, district superintendent, individual departments, classrooms, faculty and staff, students, parents and community partners--is essential to recycling/waste reduction program success. Working as a school community facilitates the institutionalization of sustainable materials management and other resource conservation efforts into the school district’s business and education cultures. This toolkit is designed to provide related resources for these key participants, with this page focusing on school district administration.
Administrative leadership and support are key to successful school recycling/waste reduction programs. The most effective way to institutionalize resource conservation practices is for the school board to adopt clear statements of environmental policy and for the superintendent to adopt operating procedures to implement this policy. School board policies set a course of environmental action and help to guide/determine present and future decisions. Operating procedures provide a mechanism to integrate the school board's policy into the school organization by outlining a series of actions that reduce the environmental impacts of day-to-day activities. It is important that the procedures be clear on what is required. Equally essential is to provide appropriate training to each department on environmental practices.
If your school board does not yet have an environmental policy and administrative procedures, use the example below to draft your own. If your existing policy has been in place for years, then take this opportunity to reassess it.
Sample Policies and Procedures
“Green schools” minimize the impact of their operations on the environment through more efficient use of energy and other natural resources, reduced use of toxic materials and efforts to improve indoor/outdoor air quality. These practices have been found to produce a number of health, academic, financial and environmental benefits, including reduced rates of asthma, respiratory tract infection and disease, allergic reactions and other negative health conditions; improved student attendance and academic performance; cost savings on utilities and buildings over time; lower emissions of pollutants; and conservation of natural resources.
School Board Association (CSBA) Policy Services offers sample Board policies
and administrative regulations (including those for energy and water management and green school
operations) to member school districts.
- In collaboration with CalRecycle, CSBA developed sample Board Policy and Administrative Regulation on integrated waste management (PDF, 54 KB) that addresses the purchasing of recycled and other environmentally preferable products in addition to mandatory commercial recycling.
- CSBA’s brief Green Schools: An Overview of Key Policy Issues from November 2009 addresses the benefits of green schools and outlines actions that districts can take to encourage, implement and monitor green school operations. It also reviews sample board policy BP 3510 - Green School Operations for optional policy language that can be modified to meet the needs and goals of the district.
- Resolution Establishing a Green Procurement and Sustainable Procedures Policy for Berkeley Schools (PDF, 157 KB) by the Berkeley Unified School District.
- See the memo from the Ukiah Unified School District superintendent to each principal as an example of how to communicate recycling and other integrated waste management programs (PDF, 29 KB) throughout the school district.
When your environmental policy is adopted, publicize it widely throughout your school district. Communicate the policy to students and parents by sending home a notice that references related program information in student/parent handbooks.
- The San Diego Unified School District Recycling Program Handbook (PDF, 3 MB) is a step-by-step guide to help schools begin or improve campus recycling programs, including sample announcements and letters to parents and outside organizations using the school facilities. (San Diego County)
- The Oak Hills Elementary School Handbook (2008-2009) (PDF, 219 KB) outlines the schools recycling achievements as well as expectations. (Ventura County)
Additionally, since resource conservation efforts benefit the surrounding community (as well as the school district), consider writing an article for your local newspaper highlighting the shared benefits of your program! This is also an excellent opportunity to recognize successful, existing resource conservation efforts.