California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle)


School Waste Diversion Programs in Other States

Other states have also implemented specific laws to facilitate the diversion of the school waste stream from disposal through waste prevention, recycling, and/or composting. Here are a few examples of school waste reduction programs from other states for your information and reference.

Mandatory Programs

Arkansas state law requires each state agency, state college or university, county, city, and public school, in cooperation with the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality and the State Marketing Board for Recyclables to:

  • Establish a source separation and recycling program for recyclables generated as a result of agency operations.
  • Adopt procedures for collection and storage of recyclables.
  • Make contractual or other arrangements for transportation and sale of recyclables.

Additional resources for the State of Arkansas include:

Recycling is Connecticut state law! All schools in Connecticut are required by state law to recycle the following 14 items:

  • Glass & Metal Food and Beverage Containers
  • Plastic Containers (PET or PETE #1). New as of May 1, 2012
  • Plastic Containers (HDPE #2). New as of May 1, 2012
  • Corrugated Cardboard
  • Boxboard.
  • Newspaper
  • Magazines.
  • White & Colored Office Paper (residences and businesses).
  • Scrap Metal
  • NiCad Rechargeable Batteries (from consumer products)
  • Waste Oil (crankcase oil from internal combustion engines)
  • Storage Batteries (from motor vehicles)
  • Leaves (must be composted)
  • Grass Clippings (banned from disposal--should be left on the lawn or, if necessary, composted).

Everyone must recycle including all public and private schools. The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection is concerned that if students learn it is okay not to recycle at school, they will not recycle at home. District-wide recycling and waste prevention programs provide students "laboratories" to test their knowledge and skills by actively taking part in managing their resources.

Kentucky state law requires each local board of education to adopt a plan and procedures for recycling white paper and cardboard in all board-owned and operated facilities.

New Jersey
Recycling has been mandatory in New Jersey since 1987. Since, school recycling programs require special-planning and careful implementation if they are to become a lasting part of a student's educational experience, the Association of New Jersey Recyclers developed a Recycling Manual for New Jersey Schools to guide key school personnel step-by-step through the process of setting up a recycling program. It provides all the necessary tools for designing and implementing a viable and comprehensive program in public, private and parochial schools.

In Nevada, each school district is required to recycle the paper and paper products it uses. Specifically, the board of trustees is required to make available a program for the recycling of paper and paper products and may prescribe a procedure for the recycling of other waste material produced on the premises of the schools and the administrative offices of the school district. Any money received by the school district for recycling paper and paper products it uses must be paid by the board of trustees for credit to the general fund of the school district.

New York
Public and private schools, institutions of higher education and any other educational institutions in New York State are required to recycle materials collected in their local recycling program. Each municipality was required by Chapter 70, Laws of New York 1988, to have a recycling law or ordinance requiring source separation of recyclables by September 1, 1992. The municipalities developed a recycling program that fit their needs and met the goals established by the State. Each municipality has their own penalties or fines for those people who do not recycle.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) sponsors the "Green Schools" Challenge to recognize those schools that are working towards responsible solid waste management by developing waste reduction, reuse, recycling, composting and/or buy recycled products and packaging programs.

In 2010, New York City Schools began a pilot program for "Trayless Tuesdays" at all public schools. By using paper based "boats" instead of polystyrene trays, the Department of Education and the City Sanitation Department estimate that 2.4 million polystyrene trays will be diverted from the landfills each month of the pilot program.

Rhode Island
In 1986, Rhode Island became the first state to pass mandatory recycling legislation. The first recycling programs were started in 1988 as a joint effort between the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation. The materials collected for recycling from this standard program are: glass containers, tinned steel cans, aluminum cans, foil, and pie plates, "#2" HDPE plastic milk/water jugs, "#1" PETE soda bottles, and newspapers (placed inside) brown paper grocery bags." The Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation promotes school recycling via Rhode Island Schools Recycle Club as a means to comply with these mandatory recycling regulations.

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Voluntary Programs

The Florida State Department of Environmental Protection encourages schools to develop recycling programs and hosts a variety of instructional guides and resources on its website.

In 2009, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Florida Department of Education and a host of community partners, announced the Florida Green School Awards. This program recognizes the environmental achievements of students, teachers, classes, schools and school districts.

In 2011, a partnership between the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Florida Department of Education, Florida’s Foundation, Sustainable Florida and the Florida Department of Health created the Florida Green School Network. This organization acts as a central clearinghouse for the green school movement in the state of Florida. It was designed to recognize and support green school initiatives at the school and school district level and to aid them in adopting practices that will conserve natural resources, promote sustainability and reduce operating costs.

Maine provides tools and resources for students to start recycle clubs on campus. On the Maine State Planning Office website there is access to information on starting recycling programs, becoming a green community and campus, as well as educational material on the lifecycle of solid waste and the benefits of recycling.

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection offers recycling assistance to schools via its Green Team program, curriculum and activities, and displays and presentations.

Per Montana’s Department of Environmental Protection, schools from all over the state are encouraged to participate in the annual Great American Can Roundup School Recycling Challenge sponsored by the Can Manufacturers Institute. This one among many programs the State has set up to encourage recycling in the schools.

North Carolina
North Carolina law supports the participation of schools in recycling programs. N.C. General Statute 115C-47 requires, "Local boards of education shall encourage recycling in school and may develop and implement recycling programs at public school."They also have results from a 2006 survey about the day-to-day operations of recycling programs in North Carolina schools.

At schools across Oregon, students, teachers and staff are making a difference in their communities with programs to recycle, reduce waste, save energy and conserve water. Oregon Green Schools is a nonprofit organization with nearly 300 participating schools. Oregon Green Schools provides tools and resources such as:

The Virginia Recycling Association publishes a School Recycling Toolkit including, a guide to school recycling, vendors by region, template letter to school district administration and city officials as well as recent school recycling survey data.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has developed The Green & Healthy Schools Wisconsin program. Green & Healthy Schools Wisconsin recognizes achievement in nine focus areas, including environmental and sustainability education, environmental health (indoor air quality, chemical management, integrated pest management), and recycling and waste management.

Washington state law requires the development of a voluntary awards program to achieve waste reduction and recycling in the public schools, grades K-12. For law details, see:

  • Title 70 (PDF, 6.8 MB): Public Health and Safety.
  • 70.95C: Waste Reduction.
  • 70.95C.120: Waste Reduction and Recycling Awards Program in K-12 Schools.

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Last updated: September 29, 2015
School Waste Reduction
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