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Zero Waste
Zero Waste

Recycle - Schools

Schools play a big part in helping the District achieve Zero Waste. Colleges and universities, public charter schools, and private schools are required to supply accessible recycling containers so that all individuals, including students, staff, and visitors can separate and recycle their waste. This also means contracting hauling services to provide containers outside the building that are picked up by a truck, as well as providing bins inside the building. It is also a requirement for schools to post signs and communicate how and what to recycle.

For DC Public Schools (DCPS), the hauling services are contracted by the Department of General Services (DGS) and standardized supplies are provided through the DCPS Recycles! program.

What Can I Recycle at School?

All schools are required to recycle the materials on this list.

Dual stream recycling signs (paper and metals, plastic, glass)


Students learning about recycling and composting

DCPS Schools

All DCPS schools are expected to sort and collect paper recyclables, mixed recyclables, and non-recyclable trash throughout their buildings. Schools that receive organic pick up services are expected to sort organics (food scraps and soiled paper) in their kitchens and cafeterias.

Everyone is expected to participate. All staff and students are to sort waste into bins according to labels and instructions provided.

Teachers are responsible for ensuring blue classroom bins are used for PAPER ONLY.

Custodial staff is responsible for collection. Custodial staff is NOT responsible for sorting.

Anyone can be an advocate! Ask your principal to find out who is the delegated administrator responsible for your school’s recycling program.

Janitorial staff looking into compost bin outside

5 Steps to Recycle Right

Looking to start a recycling program at your school? Want to make the program at your school even better? Start here. By following these steps, you can get your whole school involved in a school-wide effort to recycle!

DC Public Charter School Board logo

Charter Schools

Like all schools, DC public charter schools are required by law to provide accessible recycling containers and to post signs and communicate about how and what to recycle. 

Under the Healthy Schools Act, DGS can provide technical assistance for charter schools seeking to implement or improve their school recycling programs.

Contact the Department of General Services to learn more.

Resources for schools - example: Sort it out answer key

Teacher & Environmental Educator Resources

For access to dozens of recycling-related teaching resources including games, lesson plans, competitions and challenges, educators can visit the DGS – Healthy Schools website.

SWEEP inspector teaching kids about recycling through the SWEEP Jr. program

Sweep Jr.

SWEEP Jr. is a Department of Public Works (DPW) program that partners with schools to teach students about litter prevention, composting, and recycling, and provides youth opportunities to earn community service credits.  To schedule a presentation and more information contact: 

Mr. Wilson Reynolds




What Doesn't Belong in the Recycling Bin?

At this time, some materials should not be included in mixed recycling. However, this does not prohibit the recycling or composting of these materials through other means of collection and recovery. For the list of materials that should not go in the recycling but in the trash bin, please click here.

Certain materials should not go in the recycling OR trash bin. To learn how to dispose of special waste properly, please click here.