How to guide


> Bin It
Set up a recycling system to recover valuable resources


Waste is such a waste! No really, it is: it’s a waste of energy, water, fuel, and of the valuable resources required to make all the stuff we’re wasting. Recycling our waste where we can (instead of binning it) will save these valuable resources from being wasted AND will reduce the amount of harmful greenhouse gases that we produce (waste that is sent to landfill breaks down in a way that releases carbon dioxide).

Just take a look around your school and you will realise that most of the stuff we waste can actually be recycled and turned into new things. In a typical school bin you will find things like paper, plastic packets and food scraps, all of which can be easily recycled.

Every item we choose to recycle helps to save landfill space and resources such as energy, water and fuel that would have otherwise been used to make that item from scratch.

How To Do It

Set up recycling bins

There are lots of things you could collect and recycle, such as:

  • Paper and cardboard
  • Mixed recycling (bottle, cans, containers, etc.)
  • Aluminum cans
  • Soft plastic (plastic bags and packets)
  • Organic waste (food scraps)
  • Water (from bubblers)

Which one should you choose?

Start at the source and take a look in your school bins to see what is being wasted. Keep a tally of the different types of waste you see and use this information to decide what system is best for your school. You could collect waste from a selection of school bins and sort it into different categories (e.g. paper, plastic) then measure how much of each type of waste you find.

Before setting up your recycling system brainstorm the following questions:

  • How will you collect the waste and what will you need? (E.g. bins, buckets, boxes)
  • Where will you collect it? (E.g. from classrooms, play areas, tuckshop)
  • How will you show your recycling bins are special? (E.g. signs, labels, bright colours)
  • Who will empty them and when? (E.g. students, daily or weekly)

Set up your new bins and start recycling!

Quick tips: 

  • Before you start, think about how the waste will be collected from the school ‒ is there already a collection service in place or does one need to be organised?
  • It’s best to put your new recycling bin/container next to the existing waste bin.

Whole school tip

Make an announcement at assembly about what’s happening and go through the what, how and why before starting (e.g. what can and cannot be recycled, how you are going to collect the waste and why the school is doing this). This will encourage everyone to get involved.

What’s Our Impact?

Keep track of how much waste/water you recycle in one week. Use the following as a guide to help you calculate your positive impact:

Three pieces of waste a day is equal to 30kg of waste per year. Approximately 1kg of plastic has a 6kg CO2e carbon footprint. What does that mean?

  • 30kg fills a 240L wheelie bin or equals 180 CO2e (CO2 equivalent) kg a year
  • 22kg fills a shopping trolley (175L) or 132 CO2e kg a year
  • 75kg fills a shopping basket (30L) or 22.5 CO2e kg per year


Fast Facts

Recycling 1kg of cardboard can save up to 1kg of greenhouse gases from being created and up to 30,000 litres of water.

Paper can be recycled up to eight times.

Recycling a single aluminium can saves enough electricity to run a TV for three hours.

Recycling 1kg of aluminium saves 20kg of greenhouse gas from the atmosphere.