School Recycling Reminder

In Connecticut, recycling is state law! This means that everyone must recycle including all public and private schools.

The items required to be recycled in accordance with Section 22a-208v and Section 22a-256a of the Connecticut General Statutes and Section 22a-241b of the Regulations of the Connecticut State Agencies include:

  • Glass and Metal Food and Beverage Containers
  • Plastic Containers (PET or PETE #1) - New as of May 1, 2012
  • Plastic Containers (HDPE #2) - New as of May 1, 2012
  • Waste Oil (crankcase oil from internal combustion engines)
  • Storage Batteries (from motor vehicles)
  • Scrap metal
  • Corrugated cardboard
  • Boxboard - New as of May 1, 2012
  • Newspaper
  • Magazines - New as of May 1, 2012
  • White & Colored Office Paper (residences and businesses) - New as of May 1, 2012
  • Leaves (must be composted)
  • Grass Clippings (banned from disposal - should be left on the lawn or, if necessary, composted)
  • Ni-Cd Rechargeable Batteries (from consumer products)

    In addition to the mandated items, many municipalities have ordinances which require additional items to be recycled, such as plastic containers with a number chasing arrows with a number 1 in the middle and chasing arrows with a number 2 in the middle, old magazines, discarded mail, and discarded mail.  Cartons, including milk, juice, soup, and broth, are also collected for recycling in many municipalities. To find out about these and additional items, contact your local municipal recycling contact or refer to your local solid waste and recycling ordinance.

    child putting paper in a recycling bin

    Help DEEP set an example

    DEEP is concerned that if students learn it is OK not to recycle at school, they will not recycle at home. In any school curriculum, the environment and ecology are important learning topics. We believe that source reduction and recycling are important components in the lessons of a healthy environment and ecology. District-wide recycling and waste prevention programs provide students "laboratories" to test their knowledge and skills by actively taking part in managing their resources.

    In addition to the guidance presented in the School Recycling Fact Sheets booklet (PDF, 4400K), these strategies may help at your school:

    1. Cafeterias should have clearly marked containers for beverage containers. If there are vending machines in the cafeteria, then containers should be placed near the machines. Colorful posters made by the students help bring attention to the recycling effort. The best bottle and can bins are those with a lid having holes to insert bottles and cans. This helps to prevent contamination from other waste. An alternative is to bracket a smaller bin just for bottles/cans onto the larger garbage can so that students can easily separate bottles/cans from food waste and other garbage. Such a system can be used in school corridors as well.
    2. There are two ways to handle bottles/cans in the classroom: 
      1. Provide three bins in classrooms – one for garbage, one for paper, and one for bottles/cans.
      2. Ask students who bring in a bottle/can to take it with them at the end of class and deposit in bottle/can containers in the halls. Stress a "carry in – carry out" policy for bottles/cans in the classroom. The best solution is to not allow beverages in the classroom. This policy should also be followed by teachers.
    3. In the main office, include desktop or desk-side recycling bins for mixed paper that can be emptied into one central bin in administrative areas at the end of each day or several times a week. This makes recycling more convenient and efficient for personnel and encourages greater participation. Mixed paper must be separated from regular garbage. School office areas often are the biggest violators of the recycling law because recycling provisions are not convenient. The best recycling programs implement strategies which make it as easy to recycle as it is not to recycle. An employee is unlikely to get up to use a centralized paper bin in the office. Thus a small bin at each desk improves participation in a program.
    4. Classrooms, the library, and computer rooms (if any) should have clearly labeled bins for mixed paper. Your town Fire Marshal will determine whether it is permissible to have plastic blue bins rather than metal bins/containers in classrooms. Provisions for recycling should be placed next to garbage cans.
    5. Newspaper brought in by teachers and staff or those, which may be used in English classes, is a mandatory recyclable and must be placed in mixed paper containers if you are engaging in a mixed paper recycling program. Otherwise, newspaper must be collected separately and can be mixed with cardboard.
    6. Fluorescent bulbs should be collected and stored in a drum or other container without breakage due to their mercury content. The bulbs should be removed of at least once a year. Call DEEP for a fact sheet on the proper management of spent fluorescent bulbs.
    7. Morning announcements should include regular reminders to the students and teachers about the appropriate locations of recycling bins and where different materials should go. If your custodial staff discovers that significant contamination becomes a problem, then teachers should be given written reminders of your recycling requirements so that they can pass them on to their students.
    8. Teachers and staff should not use recycling bins as totes to carry supplies or store files. This undermines the recycling program and sets a bad example.
    9. Recycling provisions should also be made for all in and outdoor special events, such as school dances and sporting events.
    10. All schools should be reminded near the end of the school year that when purging files, the paper must be recycled in the appropriate bins. If white office paper, cardboard or other mandatory recyclables are found on the tipping floor of a trash to energy plant or transfer station, both the hauler and school will be issued a Notice of Violation from the Department.
    11. Your school district may choose to form a district-wide recycling committee to organize, promote, and implement recycling. Committee members should represent the school community. For more information on developing a district-wide approach to school recycling, call the general recycling number at (860) 424-3366.

    Content Last Updated February 2020