Reducing Recycling Contamination


Our school has always struggled with our recycling program. Our primary issue is with respect to sorting. Due to budget constraints, our school board does not provide adequate bins to ensure proper sorting, we receive only blue bins. We then collect paper boxes to act as paper bins and place them all around the school. Because these bins are fully opened with no lids students for the most part treat them as garbage bins and we have well over 50% contamination which then has to be sorted through by our Green Industries class. It is a messy undertaking.


We spent a week in September educating our school through posters, announcements and classroom visits to teach students how to recycle, but it didn’t produce any significant changes. We came to the realization that we needed actual sorting bins to make it clear what was paper and what was container and have 6 centers around the school for students to use. We purchased bins that we saw on a field trip at University of Waterloo that looked robust and clearly communicated the recycling streams.

Reflection & Celebration

Since we have installed these, our contamination has reduced significantly, to about 15-20%. We still have work to do with education, but these bins have helped significantly.

6. Clean Water and Sanitation
11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
12. Responsible Consumption and Production
13. Climate Action
15. Life on Land
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