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Denver Recycles proudly provides more than 90,000 students in 170 Denver Public Schools with recycling service. More than 40 of these schools receive compost collection as well. Denver Recycles works extensively with DPS to educate students, staff and parents about the importance of waste reduction, reuse, recycling and composting. 

If you represent a DPS school and have questions about recycling, please email


More Information and Resources

Teacher Resources

Here are some ways you can lessen your impact on the environment and still have a fantastic school year:

  • Encourage families to buy items on your school supply list that are made from recycled content, such as notebooks, folders and writing paper. When shopping look for products made from with the highest percentage of recycled content as possible. By selecting products made of recycled content material you will help close the recycling loop and support residential recycling programs and their associated markets.
  • Reuse empty plastic tubs for storing pencils, paper clips or other small items needed on hand for school.
  • Recycle school papers such as old homework and tests in your Denver Recycles purple cart. Each ton of recycled paper can save 17 trees.
  • Pack lunches in reusable containers instead of disposable plastic bags or plastic wrap. If reusable containers are not an option, try wrapping sandwiches in aluminum foil, which you can recycle in your Denver Recycles purple cart.
  • Avoid buying single-serving, non-recyclable food items such as juice boxes, individual chip bags and cereal variety packs. You can also cut down on wasteful packaging and buying items in bulk.
  • Don’t waste paper! Write and print on both sides. Set your computer and printer to “double-sided” as the default option so documents automatically print double-sided. Printing double-sided handouts, reports and tests can dramatically reduce paper use, which saves nature AND saves money. Did you know that the average American uses 650 pounds of paper per year?
  • Collect scratch paper for reuse. Start saving one-sided print jobs and use these papers for scratch paper when doing math problems, taking notes or completing art projects.
  • Instead of buying bottled water for lunches and field trips, pour drinks in reusable, durable water bottles or thermoses.

An estimated 40% of food in the United States goes to waste, and you can see this play out daily in DPS lunchrooms. All too often sandwiches sent from home go untouched, salad bar choices barely get noticed, and prepackaged snacks are never even opened.  Instead, students simply toss these perfectly edible items in the trash (or compost) and head outside to recess. Students and their families can learn how and commit to reducing their food waste with the My Save the Food Pledge.

Each year when students clean out their lockers or desks, paper and other materials that could have been recycled or reused are needlessly thrown away. Think of all the work your school has put into waste reduction and recycling this year! Why stop now. Instead, follow this simple step-by-step plan for organizing an end of year clean-out and see how much your school can reuse, recycle and donate. 

Advance Planning:

1. Identify a staff member, club or group of students to take the lead in preparing for, promoting and monitoring the cleanout. This could be an environmental club or Green Team, student council, or class that is particularly interested in being involved.

2. Discuss the collection process/details with administration and facilities manager. You should determine:

  • When will the event be held? Will it be a designated day for all students or will each grade or floor be assigned a separate "cleanout" day? For high schools, will students be given time during homeroom or study hall to clean out their lockers and how much supervision will be required?  We encourage you to hold your clean-out on a day immediately following one of your recycling collection days to ensure that you have enough space for all you recyclables.
  • Where will  recycling/trash/reuse stations be set up in the school? Will you place recycling carts/bins next to trash cans at each end of hallways, or will you designate one large sorting station per floor?  We suggest that if you have adequate space in the hallways that you place stations as close as possible to lockers and classrooms, making recycling during the clean-out very easy.
  • How many recycling carts/bins will be present at each recycling station? Because recyclable paper makes up most of a school's waste stream, we would encourage you to have more recycling carts/bins then trash cans at each station.
  • How will you  collect items for reuse? Will you have a cardboard box at each recycling station for all reusable items or will you have several boxes labeled for various common reusable items such as teacher supplies, books, clothes, notebooks, pencils, pens, etc.?

3. Begin saving cardboard boxes from the kitchen that can be labeled and used to collect reusable items.

4. Educate students and staff through signs and announcements about the "cleanout" and how to participate.

5. If possible, enlist parent volunteers, students and staff to monitor recycling stations on the day(s) of the cleanout.

Recycling During Cleanout Day

1. Label recycling bins/carts clearly, explaining what goes in and what stays out. Although students have already been recycling during the school year, an extra reminder during this busy time will be helpful. 

    REMEMBER...what is  not accepted in the recycling:

  • Laminated paper, paper cups, paper towels, napkins & tissues
  • Food
  • Plastic bags, wrappers and milk crates
  • Foam cups, trays, blocks, packing peanuts, etc.
  • Electronics (Contact DPS Enterprise Management at 720-423-5650 for pick-up of no longer needed or working electronics and furniture.
  • Paint, batteries, chemicals, CFLs, etc. (Contact DPS Facilities Management at 720-424-5454 for disposal of potentially hazardous materials.)

2. Pair recycling and trash carts/bins at your designated recycling stations to make it easy for students to sort trash from recyclables. Never have trash can by itself in a hallway or common area, as it is sure to collect materials that could have been recycled.

Reuse During Cleanout Day

Many materials students throw away at the end of the school year can be used again in the future. Examples include crayons, notebooks, markers, glue, scissors and many other school supplies.


1. Set aside a central location as a reuse area and encourage students to bring items that can be used again next year to that location. Or, include labeled reuse boxes at each of your recycling stations throughout the school. ( Designate a "reuse closet" for these materials for student and staff to visit in the fall and obtain supplies free of charge.)

2. Place clothing donation boxes in a central reuse area or next to recycling stations for students to deposit unwanted clothing. Some students (especially older students) will throw out clothes at the end of the year rather than taking them home. These leftover clothing items can be donated to a local charity organization. (Identify a staff member or parent who can take the donated items to a local donation center.)