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How to Start a Basic Recycling Program for Colleges & Universities

Busch Systems | December 5th, 2014

This brief overview help give you an outline on how to start a basic recycling program for your college or university. For a much more detailed plan, visit our How To Guide section which goes into more depth on how to execute a recycling program.


Here are steps to starting your college or universities recycling program!

Step 1: Research

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Before implementing a recycling program on campus, the following needs to be taken into consideration:

  • Was there already past recycling efforts on campus? Did it work? What could be improved?
  • Look into school policies and as well as local & province/statewide laws – for the program to be successful it should be compliant with laws and policy.
  • What is the current waste stream in your area?
  • Look into what local waste haulers collect, what needs to be separated, their collection times, cost, etc.

  • Step 2: Determine your Needs

    Determine how many bins are necessary and which will work best for different spaces on campus.

    Take into account high traffic areas –cafeterias, public spaces, sports complexes, and lower traffic areas – dormitories and offices.

    Depending on how large your school is, you may also need to hire a recycling or sustainability coordinator to oversee the program to guarantee its future success.

    Step 3: Write a Proposal

    When seeking the funds required to get the program rolling, the following should be covered in the written proposal:

  • Show that recycling makes sense both environmentally and from an economic standpoint for your school.
  • Demonstrate how much money could potentially be saved on disposal.
  • Outline the entire process from container implementation.
  • Including any statistics on the success of recycling programs at other colleges and universities might sway any decisions in your favor as well.

    Step 4: Choose Containers

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    So your excellent proposal has netted you the money you needed to set things set things in motion, don’t get too excited and buy the first container you come across. When purchasing bins for your campus, some things need to be taken into account first:

      Think of the spaces you’ll need containers for:
    • Cafeterias
    • Hallways
    • Classrooms
    • Dorms
    • Outdoor Public Spaces
    • Offices
    • Offices around campuses often handle sensitive information – be sure to purchase secure document bins!

      Posters and signage ensure students and faculty know what material goes where which decreases contamination and making recyclables more valuable.

      Bins should have proper openings and labels to guide participants.

      Buy containers made in North America to reduce your carbon footprint as well as bins made of recycled content.

      A good rule to follow when placing recycling bins around campus – Wherever there is a waste bin on campus, there should be an option for recycling next to it!

      Step 5: Implementation

      When seeking the funds required to get the program rolling, the following should be covered in the written proposal:

      Contact the waste hauler that you have chosen and assign a recycling coordinator to ensure everything runs smoothly. Set up a “green team” to assist the recycling coordinator in educating students and faculty – they will also help in generating buzz around campus about sustainability.

      Many schools come up with a name and logo to go along with their program. Sustainability departments and green teams often set up their profiles on social media that help ensure their message and goals are reaching a broader audience.

      Step 6: Monitor

      Another job of then newly instated recycling coordinator is to monitor how well recycling efforts across campus are doing, providing feedback on anything that needs improvement.

      Reach out to recycling and sustainability coordinators at other schools and see how their collection has and hasn’t worked on their campus.

      To keep individuals aware and enthusiastic about the program, report the impact that participant’s actions have had on campus. Awareness can be spread through posters, newsletters or social media posts!

      And finally, be sure the waste stream and collection processes on campus are running smoothly by making any adjustments needed to improve rates and collection.

You might also be interested in:
Recycling Industry Secrets: What You Need To Know When Choosing Recycling Bins
The Journey to Zero Waste
Is Recycling Dying?

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