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Back to School Recycling Programs

Back to school season is here. Kids will be loading their backpacks with fresh school supplies and heading back in the coming weeks. PTOs and PTAs will be starting a new year of fundraisers to raise money for their schools. One of the most popular and recognizable fundraising programs at local schools is the Box Tops for Education program. To date, American schools have earned over $719 million thanks to this program. My Coke Rewards is another high profile program that gives funds to participating schools.

There are many other lesser known fundraising opportunities for schools. Some of these programs not only raise money for schools but also help the environment. For schools looking to make their buildings greener this year, consider adopting any of the following programs:

TerraCycle, in partnership with Colgate and Tom’s of Maine, offers cash for recycling toothpaste and other personal health products like mouthwash bottles and caps, deodorant containers and caps, soap packaging, floss containers, and toothbrushes. Schools and non-profit organizations collect the recyclable items and send them to TerraCycle for recycling. TerraCycle also offers similar fundraising programs for juice boxes and fruit pouches.

Schools can also earn money from various organizations for collecting recyclable printer ink jet cartridges and other e-waste. A quick search of the Internet will show dozens of companies that will give your school cash for empty ink jet cartridges, electronics like old cell phones and music players.

Greening your schools doesn’t have to be just for fundraising purposes. Creating recycling programs in schools helps teach kids about the environment and how important it is to protect our natural resources, reduce our carbon footprints and conserve energy.

Keep America Beautiful is currently registering schools for its 6th Annual Keep America Beautiful Recycle-Bowl recycling competition to motivate young people toward adopting sustainable behaviors. Decking company Trex hosts an annual Plastic Film Recycling Challenge. Schools across the country compete to collect the most plastic bags and other types of polyethylene. The winning school receives a Trex bench.

Starting recycling initiatives at schools does not have to be a daunting task. There are many resources available. For example, in suburban Chicago, the Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County is hosting a back to school informational seminar in September for educators, school officials and PTA/PTO representatives. Attendees will learn about solid waste and recycling technologies as well as related curriculum for classroom learning.

When launching any new program, success depends on the program’s promotion. Kick-off new school year recycling programs with an eco-friendly promotional product that will have people talking and participating for the entire school year.


Photo credit: Keep America Beautiful