Climate Ready Schools Guide

Waste reduction

Improve your school’s waste management practices by following the waste and resource management hierarchy to reduce waste collection costs, pollution of the natural environment and greenhouse gas emissions.

Waste and resource management hierarchy

The waste and resource management hierarchy is a framework that guides the order of preference for managing waste. Waste should be avoided as a first priority, after which options for reuse and recycling should be explored. The options of fuel production, energy production or disposal should be reserved for residual waste that is unsuitable for higher order options. The hierarchy shapes the Strategy’s priorities and provides the basis for the development actions.

  • Avoid and reduce waste
  • Reuse waste
  • Recycle or compost waste
  • Recover fuel from waste
  • Recover energy from waste
  • Dispose of waste

Key actions for schools

3.1  Conduct a waste audit

Conducting a waste audit helps you understand your school’s waste generation and identify areas where you can take action.

A waste audit involves the assessment of:

  • the waste content of sample bins
  • your school’s waste collection setup
  • your school’s waste and recycling costs.

Tips to assist with your waste audit

A waste audit can be conducted by a representative within the school community.

Useful contacts and resources:

  • The CCIQ ecoBiz program offers free assistance in developing waste management strategies.
  • Many local councils have waste education and management programs for schools.
  • Waste and recycling contractors can provide information on waste collection products and collection frequencies.

How to set up recycling in your school

If your school would like to set up a recycling program, below are some steps to follow:

  • Discuss setting up a recycling program with your school management, such as the business service manager or operational staff.
  • Contact your waste provider to check what services they offer. If your waste provider is unable to provide recycling services, you can search for alternative services at Planet Ark’s Recycling Near You.
  • Contact your local council to see if they offer waste education programs or if you can tour a recycling facility.
  • View the Planet Ark’s Recycling Near You guide on setting up recycling systems in schools.

3.2  Develop a waste and resource efficiency plan

Once a waste audit has been completed, you will have a good understanding of the waste and litter your school produces. Your waste and resource efficiency plan may cover a number of areas.

Community education

There are several ways to improve community awareness of waste management, including:

Join Containers for Change

  • The Containers for Change scheme provides an incentive to collect and return containers for recycling, in exchange for a 10 cent refund payment.
  • Your school can choose to collect eligible containers as a donation point (contact your local container refund point operator for information about availability of collection bins or to take collected containers to them for a refund) or register for a scheme ID, which allows community members to donate their refund to you.

Host a plastic free community event or school fete

  • Host a plastic free event to educate the community on how disposable plastics can be avoided.
  • Tourism and Events Queensland’s Queensland Events Guide have a detailed chapter on hosting sustainable events.

Case study

Marsden State High School slashes its waste costs

With around 2,300 students and its own Sustainability Skills Centre, Marsden State High School has halved the amount of waste ending up in landfill and dramatically slashed its waste disposal costs.

The school was among the first to take advantage of the Queensland Government’s container refund scheme, introduced in 2018.

As a result of their overall recycling strategy, which involves cashing in on disused cans, paper and steel items, waste materials are now adding to the school’s bank balance.

Through diverting waste from landfill, the school’s waste disposal costs have also reduced by around 85%.

The school engaged Brett Robb Consulting to make the following changes:

  • installing separate waste bins for recyclable waste
  • creating a dedicated bench for sorting recyclable materials from waste
  • recycling drink containers, paper and steel products
  • reducing litter in the school grounds
  • improving awareness of the workload of the school’s cleaners
  • training cleaning staff on improved waste management efficiency.

Together these measures have improved morale for the school community, especially the cleaners, who are now recording fewer sick days and injuries.

Through the school’s Sustainability Skills Centre students are continuing to participate in workshops on how to keep the momentum going for more waste elimination and a beautification of their school environment.

In this guide:

  1. Energy efficiency
  2. Water efficiency
  3. Waste reduction
  4. Transport efficiency
  5. Food gardens and local food production
  6. Resilient schools and communities
  7. Climate ready schools checklist

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