Zero Waste

Boston schools have been recycling for many years, but in May 2012, the district took a big step forward to help the environment and save money by initiating a single stream recycling program. Single stream means no more sorting: Paper, glass, plastic, and metal can all be recycled together.

The majority of refuse produced in schools can be diverted from the trash and recycled locally. Over 50% of our schools waste can be recycled single stream! Boston Public Schools spends close to $1 million annually on trash hauling and this program will help us reduce this cost and put money back into the schools. Recycling is not only an important activity to help keep our communities clean and our environment free of toxins and debris, it offers great leadership opportunities for students and staff. Recycling programs work best when all stakeholders are educated and involved, including students, custodians, staff, teachers, and parents.

Click here to read a history of the Boston recycling programs.

2015 Banner_Race to Recycle

Check out the other tabs here for the annual RACE TO RECYCLE Competition and very helpful resources for schools to kick start their recycling program!






During the month of November, thirty BPS schools competed in the second annual Race to Recycle Competition.

The Race was a great opportunity to motivate students and staff to RECYCLE MORE & TRASH LESS, especially things like toner/ink, lunch trays or milk cartons. Many schools used the opportunity to kick start their programs, form student Green Teams and engage in friendly competition with the goal of being the top Recycling Rockstar of the district.

Congratulations to the winners and to all the participants, the Recycling Coordinators, Green Teams and school leaders who supported this program.Final Results_1SlideThe Carter Development Center took the top prize this year as the Ultimate BPS Recycling Rockstar with their impressive recycling volume during the competition. They are also deserving of this prize because of their dedication to consistently report their monthly recycling volume to BPS Facilities Management for the past three years, a request we make of the Recycling Coordinators each month. Congrats to the Carter staff and students!

The top 5 BPS Recyclers all had one thing in common – they recycled cafeteria materials such as lunch trays and milk cartons. Besides paper, the most significant volume of recycling is generated in our cafeteria. While it’s not easy getting cafeteria recycling up and running, when it does work it’s amazing the material that can be recovered. The Quincy Elementary School was able to eliminate an entire day of trash collection after starting cafeteria recycling!

Download the complete results from the 2015 Competition to see the top schools in each category.

Final Results_All Schools

Read the wrap-up blog article about the SY 2014-2015 competition, including a highlight of the winning schools!

Each Boston Public School should have a volunteer Recycling Coordinator (typically a teacher or staff member) to serve as the recycling advocate in their building. This Coordinator is responsible for educating the school about the program, ensuring the recycling collection is running smoothly, and tracking progress.

Wondering how to get a consistent recycling program off the ground at your school? This 7 Steps for a Successful Recycling Program document will help you get started.

Sign-up for the BPS Recycling Coordinator monthly newsletter; it includes information about event opportunities, grant applications, best practices from other schools, and general updates about the recycling program. Click here and enter your contact information to subscribe.

Find out about local recycling partners and helpful curriculum resources.

Lesson Plans Partners