Zero Waste

BPS strives to reduce the amount of waste generated by building occupants and reduce the amount of non-recyclable waste that is hauled to and disposed of in landfills or incineration facilities. 

BPS is committed to Zero Waste because:

1. Recycling is BPS district policy and Massachusetts state law. Review the Boston Public Schools Recycling and Zero Waste Policy.

2. Recycling is free for BPS, while trash is an operational cost for BPS. School recycling is picked up curbside for free by Boston Public Works Department as part of the PWD Residential Recycling program. School trash is picked up at a cost by Jet-A-Way as part of the BPS hauling contract. Increasing recycling while reducing trash decreases BPS operating costs, funds which could otherwise be directed to teaching and learning.

3. School zero waste programs mitigate clutter. Clutter attracts pests, creates asthma triggers like dust, and takes up valuable school space that could otherwise be used for teaching, learning, and organized storage. 

4. School zero waste programs create hands-on learning and engagement opportunities for students and staff. A successful zero waste program incorporates education and collaboration.

5. The principles of zero waste – redesign/rethink, reduce, repurpose, replace, reuse, recycle – teach us responsibility for our school and our waste, and engages us in the three E’s of sustainability: Equity, Environment, and Economy. 

Get Started with the BPS Zero Waste Guide, Equipment Order Form, and Signage



  • From 2017-2019, BPS Sustainability distributed new recycling equipment to BPS schools: 211 curbside recycling carts, 228 recycling barrels, and 4,154 classroom recycling bins across 102 schools. 

  • Hurley K-2 Teacher Jen Mohr worked with Hurley K-2 and 4th grade students and teachers to put together a “Hurley Saves the Earth” bilingual video. Ms. Mohr and the students also led an environmentally-themed assembly, created a Hurley Green Team Newsletter, and engaged in a reducing plastic waste challenge.

  • The leadership efforts of the Channing Elementary School Recycling Club were recognized with an opportunity to star in the new City of Boston Zero Waste video.

  • Sumner Elementary School kicked off the academic year with a whole school Recycling Assembly led by Recycling Teacher Leaders Anne DeVita and Ruben Carrizosa and the Student Recycling Team. Thanks to the educational outreach and the students’ leadership, the Sumner is recycling an average of 20 96-gallon carts worth of materials weekly.

  • Brighton High School’s Recycling Program enables students with moderate disabilities that are on a non-diploma track to learn leadership, organizational, and communication, and vocational skills for post secondary life. It helps them become more independent members of society and allows them to be part of the broader community of the school. The team regularly works with BHS staff and students to ensure that all recyclable materials are placed in the proper receptacles and encourage students and staff to reduce paper waste throughout the school year. The Recycling Program has reduced Brighton High’s paper waste (worksheets, projects, etc) by 39% since starting 3 years ago.

  • BPS Facilities Management installed 40 new hand dryers in student bathrooms across 10 schools, branded with the BPS logo and sustainability facts related to waste and energy.

  • In preparation for the 2019-2020 academic year, more than 150 BPS teachers visited Re-Stream to pick-up free school supplies that were collected by Re-Stream during their customer move-outs, supplies that otherwise would have gone to the landfill, saving each teacher an average of $100-200 of avoided costs.

Zero Waste Boston

Zero Waste Boston is an initiative to transform Boston into a zero waste city through planning, policy, and community engagement.


Facilities Management
1216 Dorchester Ave.
Boston, MA 02125