How to Get Your Whole School On Board With a Recycling Program

Tips and resources to make your efforts a success.

Negotiation Tactics for School Recycling

Fact: A successful school recycling program can benefit your entire community. Kids learn accountability and lifelong lessons, and recycling makes a positive impact on the environment. But how do you take your plan from idea to action, and get all stakeholders on board?

Here’s how to launch a robust, thriving school recycling program. Let’s go!

Step 1. Set and share your recycling program’s goals.

School community members will embrace a recycling program if they, most importantly, understand your “Why.” Why should your school recycle? Why would everyone want to be involved? We love how PepsiCo’s Recycle Rally Kickoff Event Guide encourages communication of your “why” goals upfront. Create an initial checklist that’s up for discussion with stakeholders. Make it clear you value participation, education, and welcome feedback throughout this journey.

Step 2. Use the power of facts and figures.

Sharing recycling data shows that action creates an impact. Present fun facts like how every plastic bottle recycled can power a tech-lab computer for 25 minutes (National Wildlife Federation). You can also show how recycling opportunities are all around a school community, including the front office, cafeteria, and classrooms. These will help justify a new school recycling program.

Step 3. Find examples of smart recycling programs.

Examples of school recycling programs are right at your fingertips with a quick Google search. You’ll find major initiatives, like PepsiCo’s Recycle Rally, offering free resources and effective ideas. Glean information from resources of all kinds and scales to see what may work at your school and what to avoid. Your research will help you finesse your action plan.

Step 4. Get visual with blueprint-style materials.


Visual learners and communicators will love this organized action plan. Layout specific checklists for leadership opportunities and responsibilities. Show off your organization skills and intention with a recycling bin audit, too. Schools can use it to determine where on campus they’ll benefit most from bin placement.

Use this recycling bin map to maximize school recycling program efforts.

Step 5. Make it about the team.

Input from your school community is essential—let their voices be heard! Jeff Zito, the Director of Curriculum at Berkeley Township School District in New Jersey, has led a PepsiCo Recycle Rally school. He says that school culture thrives when everyone’s point of view is considered. 

“Getting all the players involved and listening to everyone helps the entire process,” Zito says. “We worked with teachers, the custodians, the parents, and the community. They gave us ideas of local businesses connections and ideas we may not have thought ourselves.”

Step 6. Rally community members and students.

Stir up the excitement! Call on your student council to help with research and solidify the plan. Zito says that the power of peer-to-peer motivation is unprecedented.

Your recycling program is contagious,” he says. “Families, the community, and the town quickly become partners in the program.”

Step 7. Present your school recycling plan.

You’ve been organized, data-driven, and welcomed input. Now, show ’em your stuff! Infographics, inspiring videos, and simplified fact sheets  are all visually motivating materials. They’ll help convince partners and participants at all levels to support your initiative. Keep style and graphics simple, so they are easier to consume and understand. 

Check out this guide to involving administrators for a starter checklist, a sample letter to the principal, sample memo to staff, and more.

Step 8. Get ready to roll out.

It’s time to spread the word of your recycling program launch! Consider creating a quick video instead of a traditional newsletter or written announcement about the new program. No video access? Try rounding up the troops for a fun assembly, make use of morning announcements to drive spirit, and encourage recycling classroom activities all-program long!

Start a recycling program at your school with the help of Recycle Rally. Get free printables, resources, and more on their website.