SSR Guide – Know Your Waste

SSR Guide – Know Your Waste

Getting to know the baseline conditions of your waste stream is important for negotiating a contract with a hauler.  The more you know about your school’s waste, the easier it will be to discuss changes to your trash service.

Waste Audit

1. Estimate the number of tons of waste per week from your schools, going to the landfill.

For an easy instructional worksheet, download Appendix A.

2. Identify specific materials in your waste stream that can be recycled.

Some of the more common recyclable materials found in schools that are not being recycled are cardboard, plastic containers, and large metal cans from the kitchen.  Think about what other materials are overlooked in current recycling programs.

3. Determine what is recyclable to be diverted from the landfill.

By analyzing the contents of garbage cans throughout the entire school, you will be able to figure out what percentage of the waste is recyclable.  This is an activity that can be done by students.  If you find that 40% of your trash is recyclable, you should be able to save on trash service.  However, although you will possibly be spending less for trash, there is a cost associated with recycling pickups.

4. Recycling companies can conduct waste audits.

Some recycling companies will analyze your waste.  By looking in the dumpsters they can take a “snapshot” of the waste stream.  This may give you additional insight as to the percentage of materials that can be diverted from the waste stream.


Specific Details of Service

Take a look at your current trash service.  Familiarize yourself with your current hauling contract.


  • What is the name of the waste hauler for the school or district?
  • Who handles the contract for this hauler?
  • How many dumpsters do you have on the property?
  • What size are your dumpsters?
  • How many times per week is the trash picked up?
  • What is the cost per pickup?
  • Are you able to modify the contract?
  • How long is the contract?
  • What day does the contract expire?

Cost-Benefit Analysis

1. Understand the fee structure for each school.

You should now know the details for your hauling contract.  It is a good idea to create
a spreadsheet to outline and organize the fee structure for each school.

2. Increased recycling leads to a reduced level of trash service.

With high participation and good monitoring, recycling programs can save a significant amount of money over time because less trash pickups are needed.

Rockwood School District has saved $1000 per month on trash costs with Single Stream Recycling.  Special School District initially saved about $350 per month on waste hauling at their central office building alone.

3. Compare the cost of recycling with the cost of trash pickups.

You can easily compare the price of current trash service with the price of the proposed recycling service and see your potential savings.

4. Draft an analysis of potential costs and benefits.

For ideas, download the complete Single Stream Recycling School Guide and see appendices B – F.

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