School Recycling

Our youth are our future leaders.  Having effective recycling and organics recycling programs at schools instills environmental values.

All schools have recycling access with most schools having organics recycling programs also in place.

Commingled Recycling & Organics Recycling

Recycling programs vary widely among schools.  Schools are interested in recycling, but wonder if adding expanding recycling programs will increase costs.

School Recycling Costs and Benefits

Key findings from the study:

  • Many schools have an opportunity to reduce hauling costs by seeking competitive bids from waste haulers on a more frequent or routine basis.
  • In most cases, having a high-performing recycling program reduces net waste hauling costs for schools since most parts of the state have a lower cost per cubic yard for recyclables than for trash.
  • Organics recycling is typically more expensive per cubic yard than traditional recyclables, but less expensive than trash. However, some of the gains in hauling costs are offset by costs for compostable bags and food service items. So, some schools with organics recycling programs experienced net cost savings while others saw small increases in costs.
  • Integrating recycling best practices in schools will increase the effectiveness of recycling programs. In most cases, the improved performance will be cost neutral or save the school money.

Digging Deep through School Trash – A waste composition analysis

Key findings from the study:

  • Over 78% of school waste could be diverted from the trash to organics composting and container/paper recycling collection programs.
  • 50% of school waste could be managed via organics composting programs that accept food waste, liquids, and nonrecyclable paper.
  • The single-most common material generated by schools was food waste—23.9% of the total waste generated.
  • Recyclable paper (cardboard, white office paper, and mixed paper) accounted for 23.5% of the total waste generated by schools.
  • The schools had an average per capita total waste generation of just over half a pound per day.
  • By extrapolation, this means Minnesota K-12 public schools generate an estimated 483,520 pounds of waste per day.

Contact Pope/Douglas to help your school navigate the process of recycling more and trashing less.

Organics/Recycling/Trash Bin Signs & Stickers

FREE downloadable posters and signs to help educate your waste and recycling program!

Organics for Composting Signs

Paper Towels for Composting Signs

Single Sort Recycling Signs

Cardboard Only Recycling Signs

Trash Signs

Other Sign Options

Do the Three Sort. Color Coded Signs and Bins helps reduce contamination in the bin.

  1. Use BLUE bins to capture single sort recycling.
  2. Use GREEN bins to capture organics recycling or paper towels from bathrooms/hand-washing areas.
  3. Use GRAY or TAN bins to capture the trash.
Setting up Green Groups

Students, staff and parents can get involved with the process of greening up their school.  An effective tool is to set up a school green group.  These loosely formed groups help bring issues, concerns and project ideas to school leadership and parent groups.

Green building resources for schools

  • New construction and remodeling
  • Indoor air quality
  • Integrated pest management
  • Energy
  • Daylighting
  • Landscaping
  • Water use
  • Recycling/Waste Reduction/Reuse
Pope and Douglas Area School Successes

Area schools are taking charge!

They always strive to ensure recycling opportunities are available for their student, staff and community.

Most schools in the Pope/Douglas area have set up organics recycling programs to divert food scraps and soiled non-recyclable papers and have them composted.

Minnewaska Area High School (District 2149) was the first school in Pope/Douglas Counties to set up Organics Recycling.

They conducted a 2 week long pilot in 2016 to determine how much of their garbage was organics.

Inspiration and Ideas

Resources to get started and inspire positive change!

How to Build Raised Garden Beds

Setting up organics recycling (food scraps, etc) is an important step.  The use of finished compost that is created from the composting process and growing local foods is even better!

Build your own raised beds at your place of business, home or wherever to increase access to local foods, eat healthier and use the nutrient rich compost.

Required Materials

  • Four 8 foot long 2-by-6s
  • Two 8 foot long 2-by-6s cut in half
  • One 6 foot long 4-by-4 cut into four 16” tall corner posts
  • Weed suppressing landscape fabric
  • 32 3” screws
  • 32 cubic feet of finished compost


  1. Prepare the location by removing grass and weeds.
  2. Outline the bed dimensions on the ground using chalk or string.
  3. Dig along the outline using vertical strokes to bury about half of your first wood board.
  4. Put down a layer of newspaper or weed-suppressing landscape fabric that extends to the outside edges of the outline.
  5. Set a 4-foot 2-by-6 on its thin edge on pavement, and place a 16” post at one end. Secure post with two 3” screws. Repeat at other end of board. Repeat with other short board.
  6. Join short sides with an 8-foot board; and secure with two screws. Add other long side. Add second layer of 2-by-6s.
  7. Place the bed into the outline made in step 3.
  8. Fill the bed with potting soil.
  9. Alternative: amend soil with completed compost.

Pope/Douglas Solid Waste is in the planning stages of developing a regional organics composting site to have local access to compost for use in gardening and landscaping projects.

Phone: 320-763-9340
Toll Free: 800-972-6318
Fax: 320-763-9342

2115 Jefferson Street
Alexandria, MN 56308

Office Hours
Monday-Friday 8-12 and 1-4:30
Closed Saturday and Sunday

Recycling Center Hours
Monday-Friday 8-5
Saturday 9-2
Closed Sundays

Hazardous Waste Hours
Monday-Friday 8-12 and 1-4
Closed Saturday and Sunday
No appointment necessary

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