StopWaste at School

Subscribe

Enter your email address to be notified of new content:

Login

Tool Box

Downloadable Recycling Bin Labels


Clearly labeled bins are an important part of a school recycling system. The downloadable bin label posters in the table below can be used in a variety of settings including classrooms, cafeterias and common areas of campus. Printed posters should be laminated and affixed directly on bins or on the wall at eye level above the bin itself.

The labels below are provided in a variety of sizes and formats. JPG files are ideal for sharing electronically, embedding in websites, or adding as images to documents and newsletters. PDF files can be downloaded and printed "as is" for use in your school. PSD Photoshop files are provided if you would like to customize your posters by adding your school name or changing the images to better reflect the items found on your campus.

The images shown on the posters are broadly representative of school items that should be recycled, composted, or sent to landfill in Alameda County. However, please double check with your waste hauler to make sure the poster is accurate for your school (placement of juice boxes and milk cartons, for example, vary widely based on local markets.)

Thanks to the San Francisco Department of the Environment, Chantal Currid in Alameda Unified School District, and students at Alameda High- all of whom made important contributions to developing color coded labels reflecting the items commonly found on school campuses.


JPG Image PDF File Photoshop Description

Mixed Recycling

 

8.5 x 11

11 x 17

 

8.5 x 11

11 x 17

 

8.5 x 11

11 x 17

 

Mixed recycling signs should be used for bins that include paper, bottles, cans, and other mixed recyclable materials.

Compost

 

8.5 x 11

8 x 12

11 x 17

 

8.5 x 11

8 x 12

11 x 17

 

8.5 x 11

8 x 12

11 x 17

 

For campuses that divert mixed food scraps and food soiled paper to commercial compost systems.

Landfill

 

8.5 x 11

8 x 12

11 x 17

 

8.5 x 11

8 x 12

11 x 17

 

8.5 x 11

8 x 12

11 x 17

 

The term "Landfill" reminds students where these materials end up.

Graphics show items commonly found at schools that are difficult to recycle.

Tray Stacking

 

8.5 x 11

 

8.5 x 11

 

8.5 x 11

 

Tray stacking can reduce lunch-time waste volume by 40%. 

As schools transition to recyclable or compostable trays, even greater diversion can be achieved.

Tray Stacking

 

8.5 x 11

 

8.5 x 11

 

8.5 x 11

 

An alternate version of the tray stacking poster shows a different tray style

Bottles & Cans

 

8.5 x 11

8 x 12

 

8.5 x 11

8 x 12

 

8.5 x 11

8 x 12

 

Bottles & Cans signs should be used for bins used to collect bottles and cans destined for cash redemption programs.

(CRV stands for "California Redemption Value")

Non-CRV Recycling

 

8.5 x 11

8 x 12

 

8.5 x 11

8 x 12

 

8.5 x 11

8 x 12

 

Schools that askstudents to put bottles and cans in a dedicated place, will also want to use these signs to collect other recyclable materials such as paper and cardboard in their own bins.

Liquids


 

8.5 x 11

8 x 12

 

8.5 x 11

8 x 12

 

8.5 x 11

8 x 12

 

To reduce the amount of weight, spills, and smell associated with left over milk, juice and other drinks, add a "Liquids" bucket to the cafeteria or bottles and cans program.

5 gallon buckets are ideal for this purpose and can be emptied in custodial closet sinks.

Lunch Compost


 

8 x 12

 

8 x 12

 

8 x 12

 

Similar to the general "Compost" label above, this sign is formatted to match other lunch time labels while highlighting items commonly found in the cafeteria.

Lunch Recycling

 

8 x 12

 

8 x 12

 

8 x 12

 

This lable shows easily recyclable items that are frequently discarded in cafeterias.

Lunch Landfill


 

8 x 12

 

8 x 12

 

8 x 12

 

These items, often found in school cafeterias are not readily recyclable or compostable

Paper Towels (Restroom)


 

8.5 x 11

8 x 12

 

8.5 x 11

8 x 12

 

8.5 x 11

8 x 12

 

Schools with robust waste diversion programs may consider diverting bathroom paper towels to composting.

 

Additional downloadable/editable signs are available from the Green Schools Initiative's partnership with Berkeley Unified School District:·http://greenschools.net/article.php?id=499

DIY Recycling Bins


Effective recycling systems at schools depend on a variety of bins to allow students to separate trash from recyclable and compostable materials. Unfortunately, new recycling bins can be expensive, and the cost really adds up when schools hope to place bins in every classroom, hallway and public space on campus. In the spirit of reuse, schools can meet the challenge of setting up recycling by creating DIY (Do It Yourself) bins.

Take a look at the examples below for inspiration to:

 


 

Converted Trash Cans + Colored Duct TapeConverted Trash Cans + Colored Duct TapeNancy Deming worked with schools across Oakland to convert trash cans to recycling and foodscrap bins.  Her secret weapon?  Colored duct tape and laminated signs. "Having a uniform color scheme was really important to us.  We wanted students to immediately recognize bin types," explains Deming. "We're working hard to create bin labels showing what to do with items that students actually encounter on campus."  Deming uses black duct tape to indicate "Landfill" bins, blue to indicate "Recycling" and green to indicate "Food Scraps."  The colors on the bins at school are the same as the colors on the bins at homes, businesses, and apartments across Oakland.

 

Converted Cardboard Box + Blue PaperConverted Cardboard Box + Blue Paper

When Winton Middle School in Hayward installed a new computer lab, students were very excited about the computers.  Afterschool coordinator, Sean O'Dowd, was excited about the trash.  "We'd been trying to set up a recycling system on campus, but we didn't have bins.  Teachers in different classrooms were patching together a system of mis-matched boxes, buckets and bins.  It was a mess," says O'Dowd.  "When I saw 35 of the same sized computer boxes headed for the trash, I jumped in and snatched them up."  Students covered the boxes in blue craft paper and developed recycling logos for a system having a consistent look across the campus.  "The boxes worked great- we saw an immediate increase in the amount of paper getting diverted," reports O'Dowd. True to his reuse roots, O'Dowd also found a way to use the styrofoam packing materials for an art and sculpture lesson where students learned to "carve" styrofoam blocks into artwork.

Handmade Station Headed to Paint ShopHandmade Station Headed to Paint ShopLivermore High has wall to wall recycling available on campus.  Nearly every indoor and outdoor trash can is paired with a recycling bin or diversion station.  As the campus looks to establish recycling stations in the last corners of the campus - such as the gym - the school is discovering that there simply aren't vendors for the special uses of the last few bins.  "In the gym, we need bins that can roll out of the way depending on how the gym is configured for basketball, volleyball, or dances," explains student athlete Brooke Betts, "So, I helped write a grant to get materials to build bins here on campus."  Betts worked with teachers and students in the school's Green Engineering Academy.  Students in the CAD (Computer Aided Design) class developed blue prints that went over to the Wood Shop Class for construction.  Students are also custom building diversion stations for classrooms that have a thinner profile than those in outdoor spaces.  Teacher Stephen Bailey also regularly engages Eagle Scout candidates for projects on campus.  In one recent project, a scout converted all of the sorting stations near the cafeteria to handle food scrap diversion.

Bins for recycling systems can be created from reused cardboard boxes or repurposed trash cans or five gallon paint buckets. When creating a system from repurposed materials, keep the following points in mind:

  • Create a consistent system. ·Bins across campus should have the same shapes, sizes, placement, colors and signage so that students don't have to learn a new system in every room on campus.
  • Develop a professional appearance. As much as possible, use color coding and clear, easy to read signs. ·Maintain and replace bins as necessary to keep the system looking fresh.
  • Use bins appropriate to the material you are collecting- unlined cardboard boxes won't last long when confronted with juice, water and soda. ·Consider using clear liner bags to extend the life (and ease the maintenance) of your system

There are a variety of grants that support schools in the purchase of bins, toters and other materials to run a recycling system on campus, but the lessons learned from setting up DIY bins will help you select the best bins for purchase should you win a grant.

Do you have a great idea for DIY recycling bins?  Login to add it to the comments below.

Effective Bin Labels


An important consideration in designing a school recycling system is creating signage to help remind teachers, staff, students and visitors which items on campus are recyclable and which ones are headed to the landfill

Students at Alameda High School received copies of flyers from their waste hauler showing which items were recyclable in the school district, but immediately identified problems. "For one thing, the flyers focused on the types of things you'd find at home," explains Catlin Grey, student president of the school's Sierra Student Coalition Club. "The flyers did not have examples of the things we found on campus, so we created signs showing what to do with pens, pencils, juice pouches, milk cartons and other items."

The standard signage in Alameda was labeled "Recycling" "Trash" and "Compost" which did not accurately represent the system or message that students and teachers hoped to communicate. Teacher Carolyn Griffith explains, "We designed a system that separated paper from the bottles and cans, so we had two types of recycling bins requiring different signs. Also, we noticed that the signs should say where the items in the bin eventually go... Compost goes to the compost, recycling goes to a recycling center and trash goes to a LANDFILL, so students changed the name from "trash" to "landfill"- it has had a big impact on campus, you can see people thinking twice before sending something to the landfill."

Often, schools rush the task of creating bin labels and ask students to create signs using glue, paste, markers and other common materials. While useful for engaging a large number of students in outreach, these posters suffer from a lack of uniformity, accuracy, and legibility.

Students at Alameda High worked hard to produce professional quality signs using digital graphics programs, color printers, and laminators. (Tips for teaching students how to communicate visually through the use of posters are posted in this article by Kate Deming, an Art Teacher from San Leandro) The end result was a high-quality, customized signage system used across the campus waste stream.

Tips:

  • Create uniform, color coded, professional looking signage for all bins on campus
  • Use visuals to show where items commonly found on campus should be placed
  • Allow students to design and produce the signage- but hold them to high standards for quality, uniformity, and accuracy.
  • Templates showing what is recyclable in different districts in Alameda County are available for download here

Copies of the color coded bin labels featured above are available for download here.

School Recycling Toolkit