9 School Programs to Help You Recycle Just About Anything

Take advantage of these top school recycling resources. 

School Recycling Programs to Get Kids Excited About Saving the Planet

It’s easy to toss plastic bottles and used paper into blue recycle bins, but when you want to step up your efforts, these school recycling programs are here for you! Whether you want to recycle bottle caps, juice pouches, or more, there’s an option below.

Many of these school recycling programs involve registering or signing up, which keeps you and your students accountable. And many of them reward you for your efforts—some even with cash or supplies! Some are contests that require creative thinking and teamwork. Whichever one you choose, everyone wins—especially the environment.

1.  Help turn bottle caps into benches.

Join Green Tree Plastics in their ABC Promise Partnership (a bench for caps). This exciting partnership requires registration where you pledge that children will be contributing and learning from this experience. Plus, set a goal weight for your students to work toward. For more insight into the program, take a peek at their Facebook page, Green Tree Plastics – ABC Partnership.

2. Turn milk and juice cartons into garden structures.

School Recycling Programs to Get Kids Excited About Saving the Planet

Register your school in the Carton 2 Garden Contest and commit to collecting at least 100 empty milk and juice cartons. Then get the creative juices flowing because the goal is to find a new use for the cartons by turning them into garden structures or other items. Document the entire process and submit your project—the grand prize winner receives a prize valued at $5,000! Receive lesson plans and tips when you complete registration.

3. Make recycling fun with PepsiCo’s Recycle Rally.

School Recycling Program Recycle Rally

From engaging contests and rewards for schools to handy educational resources and fun ideas for recycling group activities, PepsiCo’s Recycle Rally has everything you need to take your recycling efforts up a notch. Free resources are available to all schools, but make the most of this school recycling program by enrolling as a Recycle Rally School. Once your school is up and running, track your recycling progress and earn points that can be redeemed for gift cards, supplies, and more.

4. Earn points from TerraCycle.


From household cleaners and cosmetics to food wrappers and baby food packaging, the recycling options through TerraCycle are endless. Search their available programs (be sure to look at which ones are accepting new participants), and find one that will be most applicable to your school, classroom, and community. The recycling you gather can be turned in to TerraCycle for points, and once you earn enough points, they can be redeemed for cash payments for your school.

5. Compete for grants through Grades of Green.

Register your school with Grades of Green to access clever and educational activities related to air, earth, energy, and waste. Plus semester-long virtual programs take your involvement up a notch. For example, the spring 2020 campaign is about reducing plastic. Teams are paired with a mentor and tasked with creating a campaign to reduce plastic, including the creation of a pitch video. The winning teams receive grants to fund their campaigns.

6. Take ink cartridges and electronics back to Staples for cash rewards.

If you’re frequently buying ink cartridges or other school supplies in bulk, it’s worth it to join the Staples rewards program. You’ll get $2 for every ink cartridge that you bring or ship back to Staples for recycling. Members also earn up to 5% back on in-store purchases. Every little bit adds up to major savings! Plus, it’s hard to know what to do with old electronics, but another program at Staples makes it easy. You can take any of your old electronics to a local store, no matter what condition they are in, and they will recycle it for you. This would be a great initiative to do to recycle old equipment at your school. Or you could offer to be a collection site for your community.

7. Pop the tabs off aluminum cans and donate them to Ronald McDonald House.

School Recycling Program Ronald McDonald House

One of the easiest ways to encourage charitable giving and recycling in schools is by getting kids involved in a pop-tab collection program that benefits Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC). Set out containers in your classroom or throughout your school—maybe even turn it into a recycling contest between classrooms—and encourage students to collect tabs from family and friends and bring them to school. Please connect with your local RMHC Chapter first to ensure they accept pop tab donations. This is a great opportunity to help raise money for RMHC and teach kids about recycling!

8. Host a shoe drive.

Get in touch with Funds2Orgs to learn all about their shoe drive fundraising program and get signed up—you’ll even get your own fundraising coach to help you plan and prepare. The gently worn, used and new shoes you collect go to micro-entrepreneurs in developing countries who sell them to support their family. In return for your fundraising efforts, your school or organization will receive a check!

9. Donate your used or broken crayons.

Crazy Crayons offers a national Crayon Recycle Program for individuals and schools. Just send your crayons into the address provided, and they will turn them into repurposed, adorable crayon sets. You do have to cover shipping, but that’s a small price to pay for knowing your crayons aren’t sitting in a landfill.

Learn more about the PepsiCo Recycling program, Recycle Rally right here. You can get free recycling printables, games, resources, and more. Plus, you could earn recycling bins for your school!