Reducing waste in schools

A young girl watching composting items being added to a compost bin.

Reducing waste in schools

There are several ways schools can look at reducing the amount of waste they throw away every day.

As easy as A, B, C...

Waste prevention is better for the environment and usually cheaper than either recycling or waste disposal.

There are lots of simple actions that your school can take to reduce its waste

  • think about the packaging used in your lunch and try to prepare a waste-free lunch.  The aim of the waste-free lunch is for each pupil to bring in a packed lunch which produces as little food and packaging waste as possible
  • use reusable bottles for juice or waster rather than buying new containers every day
  • install water fountains to avoid pupils having to bring in plastic drink's bottles
  • make double-sided photocopies/printing where possible
  • print only when necessary.  Try to keep electronic copies of files instead of printing everything out 
  • send out email newsletters or notes to parents rather than printed ones that get lost in the book bag
  • if paper has been written or printed on only one side, why not use it as scrap paper for messages, notes and lists.  Keep a tray for one sided paper to reuse
  • set up a school reuse shop for uniforms

Recycling at school saves money

Recycling at school is easy and can significantly reduce the amount of rubbish your school throws away, which saves money in collection charges.  Speak to your waste collection company or local council to see if they offer a recycling service for schools.

If you want to reduce your food waste a company called Andigestion in Gloucestershire may be able to take it. 

Visit Andigestion website to find out more

BatteryBack information about used battery containers offers advice and guidance on collecting used batteries.

Recycle and raise money

There are many organisations that will give money for your school donating mobile phones, printer cartridges and textiles for recycling, so get fund raising today!

Bag2Schools collect textiles, including clothing, bedding, curtains, soft toys, shoes, belts and handbags.  Your school is then paid per kilo for all the textiles collected.  The company provides the bags so all you have to do is arrange a day for the children to bring them into school and the company will collect them all.  Textiles make up over 12% of the waste collected in Worcestershire, so it makes sense to reuse them.

Composting in schools

Composting saves money, saves, energy, saves water and provides free garden compost year after year

Composting at school is a fun way to learn about nature while also reducing the amount of organic waste that the school sends for disposal. A bonus is that students can actually get to see the end result of their efforts – their finished compost being used on the school grounds.

Worcestershire County Council offers free compost bins to schools that are working towards their Eco Schools Green Flag or setting up an eco-garden.

To apply for yours:

Contact Let's Waste Less

More advice on school composting including resource packs can be found on Recycle Now - Composting.

Composting can be used for the study of

  • mini beasts
  • school grounds
  • food chains
  • micro-organisms and decay
  • helping plants grow
  • measuring
  • improving the environment
  • involving the local community

Resources for schools

For information about the waste hierarchy and lesson plans, including activities liked to the curriculum and free resources, visit the following websites:

Recycle Now

  • Recycle Now provides information, advice and activities for primary and secondary schools. It also guides you through the process of setting up and maintaining effective recycling schemes.

Keep Britain Tidy

  • Keep Britain Tidy runs the international Eco Schools programme in England and is all about getting school communities to be more sustainable.

Recycle More

  • Recycle More offers information for pupils and teachers, key stage activities, game and facts.


  • Sustainability and Environmental Education (SEEd) is a registered charity that identifies, promotes, enables and supports environmental education. It is an umbrella, membership organisation for schools, colleges, universities, local authorities and educators interested in environmental education.

Eco Schools

  • Eco Schools is an international award programme that guides schools on their sustainable journey, providing a framework to help embed these principles into the heart of school life.


  • WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme) is a registered charity that works with businesses, individuals and communities to achieve a circular economy by helping them to reduce waste, develop sustainable products and use resources in an efficient way. They have a huge online database of free resources for schools including lesson plans, artwork and teacher packs.

Garden Organic

  • Garden Organic is the organisation behind the Master Composter scheme. They promote organic lifestyles and through their education programmes are cultivating the next generation of gardeners and food growers.

Severn Waste Services

  • Severn Waste Services are the contractor for Herefordshire and Worcestershire and are responsible for the disposal of the waste within the two counties. They have a dedicated education centre at the Material Reclamation Facility at Norton near Worcester where an Education Officer can hold classroom-based activities around waste and recycling as well as tours of the recycling facilities for school and adult community groups. These visits are FREE and Severn Waste will also subsidise the coach travel for schools. To book a visit contact Severn Waste.