School Recycling FAQs

How should we recycle cardboard at our school?  

Please flatten and break down cardboard boxes into pieces no larger than 2 ft. x 2 ft. before putting them in your recycling carts.  Breaking down your cardboard boxes will help maximixe the space in your carts and our trucks and prevent cardboard from getting jammed in your recycling carts.  If you prefer, you may lay cardboard flat in a stack across the top of your recycling cart and then close the lid on top. Just be sure that the lid closes to at least a 45-degree angle and that it is not an extremely windy day.

Our school just had a large delivery of computers/furniture - how should we recycle all the cardboard?

Denver Recycles can offer special collections for extremely large amounts of cardboard due to a one-time large delivery.  Contact Joni_Rix@dpsk12.org  to arrange for a special collection.

Please do not put electronic devices (televisions, computers, cell phones, etc) in your school's trash and recycling, as such items could potentially harm trash and recycling collectors and pollute the environment. DPS has an on-call service for handling these materials.  Please contact Joni_Rix@dpsk12.org to arrange for a collection.

How can we make recycling successful for a big event we are hosting at our school?    

When hosting an event at your school, you most likely will need to move some of your recycling carts from one area of the school to the area that will be in use. Always pair a recycling cart next to a trash can, so recycling is made easy for your visitors. Hang a poster on or above the recycling cart so visitors know what materials can be recycled. Or, considuer having volunteers monitor the recycling carts during a large public event. Anything you can do to educate visitors on proper recycling helps avoid contamination in recycling carts.

What should I do with used batteries, CFLs and fluorescent tubs, cell phones, paint and other hazardous materials?
 
Please do not put hazardous materials in your school’s trash or recycling, as such items could potentially harm trash and recycling collectors and pollute the environment. DPS has an on-call service for handling these items. Please contact Joni_Rix@dpsk12.org  to arrange for a collection.

How can we continue to encourage our students, staff and parents to recycle correctly?

  • Create a recycling education campaign.
  • Start recycling in the lunchroom and kitchen.
  • Include recycling at school events and sports competitions.
  • Incorporate recycling messages in daily announcements.
  • Include a list of acceptable recyclables in the school newspaper, website and weekly folder home to parents.
  • Have students make educational posters and post them all around the school.  The posters should clearly state what can and can’t be recycled.
  • Have a classroom recycling contest that rewards classrooms for recycling the correct materials and having the least amount of contamination and/or for recycling the most. 
  • Create a Green Team that can help monitor recycling bins and educate students as needed through classroom presentations or demonstrations at school assemblies.
  • Make announcements at staff meetings about the most common contaminants founds in classroom recycling bins and encourage teachers to remind their students about what is acceptable for recycling.
  • Provide feedback to students and staff about how well your school is doing at recycling and where they can make improvements. 
  • Set recycling goals for the school and make them public through a tracking poster or pledge.
  • Encourage students to create recycling songs, poems or videos to be shared at school.

How can we work with kitchen staff to ensure that cardboard and steel food cans from the school kitchen are getting recycled?

A large amount of cardboard and food prep recyclables (steel food cans, plastic bottles) come from the school kitchen. Invite your kitchen staff to participate in the program and make sure they know what materials are accepted for recycling. Some schools have kitchen and teaching staff break down cardboard boxes and set stacks of flattened cardboard in one location for students and/or Facilities Manager to collect and put in the recycling on their collection day.  Other schools have placed a recycling cart or bin in a convenient space near their food prep area for lunchroom staff to place their recyclables directly in. Meet with your lunchroom staff to determine which system will work best. 

Denver Recycles has DPS Kitchen Recycling posters to help educate kitchen staff.  Contact denverrecycles@denvergov.org to request posters.

How and why should a school start recycling in the lunchroom?

A significant amount of waste is generated in a school's lunchroom and a good portion can be recycled.  For example, these items are often found in lunchrooms and can be recycled:

  • Milk cartons and juice boxes
  • Aluminum cans and foil
  • Brown paper bags
  • Glass juice bottles
  • Paperboard boxes like those used for popular brand name boxed lunches
  • Pizza boxes
  • Rigid plastics #1-7 like plastic water and juice bottles, yogurt cups, trays like those found in popular brand name boxed lunches, and clamshells like those used for sandwiches and salads
  • Steel cans like tuna, soup and fruit cans

 

For assistance with starting a lunchroom recycling program, contact denverrecycles@denvergov.org

How do I order more recycling carts or classroom bins for my DPS school?

Before requesting additional classroom bins or carts please evaluate your current recycling program. Are your carts being filled to full capacity each week? Are cardboard boxes being flattened and broken down into pieces no larger than 2 ft x 2 ft? Are only acceptable recyclables going in the recycling bins or carts? Once you have evaluated your program, please contact denverrecycles@denvergov.org  to discuss your needs.

The lid or wheel of our school’s recycling cart is broken – who do I contact?

Please contact denverrecycles@denvergov.org  to request a new wheel or lid and we will schedule a time to come repair your cart.  To help prevent cart damage, please encourage students and staff to handle carts carefully on stairs, in tight spaces and when going through doors.

 

We’ve noticed our school's recycling often gets picked up at 10 AM.  Does this mean we can start putting our carts out later than 7 AM on our collection days?
The time a driver picks up your school’s recyclables depends on many factors and may not always be  the same. This is why it is important to set out your carts by no later than 7 AM, as it ensures your carts will be ready for collection no matter what time in the day the driver comes to your school. 

How can my school determine how much we are recycling and diverting?

You can estimate how much your school is recycling by conducting a waste assessment over a 2-week period. To learn more contact denverrecycles@denvergov.org

 

Will you accept scrap metal in the recycling program?  
We can only accept metal cans, aluminum foil and pie/food tins through your school’s recycling program. Scrap metal (such as broken metal shelving, old pipes, or sinks) of any size is not accepted in the Denver Recycles program. Please do no place scrap metal in your school’s recycling containers. These items can cause major damage to our trucks and equipment at the recycling center.   DPS has an on-call service for handling scrap metal. Please contact Joni_Rix@dspk12.org to arrange for a collection.

How should shredded paper from the school office be recycled?   

Please minimize shredded paper, by only shredding the parts of documents that contain personal information. Place all shredded paper in a sealed paper bag (NO PLASTIC BAGS) labeled "SHRED" before placing it in your recycling.   Due to how small and light it is, shredded paper that is not contained in a paper bag will most likely not be recycled, as it’s too small to sort out at the recycling center and often just blows around as litter. However, shredded paper contained in a paper bag and labeled “SHRED” can much more easily be sorted at the recycling center.  To help minimize litter, please do not place bags of shredded paper at the top of your recycling, so they can't blow or fall out of your recycling container.  

How far apart must we space our school's recycling carts for collection?

Each recycling truck has one driver who uses an automated arm to empty each recycling cart. Carts need to be set out in one line, with wheels at the curb, and with 4 feet between each cart, so the driver can easily maneuver the automated arm in between carts and not risk knocking them over. Our drivers generally have up to 600 collections scheduled on one route, so it is important that they use their time in the most efficient manner in order to reach everyone on a route. If your school's carts are not set out properly, then our drivers can’t empty them.

What student art projects are recyclable?  

The general rule is if it is water-soluble then it is acceptable for recycling.  Projects that are made up of paper colored with markers, colored pencil, or watercolor paint can be recycled. Paper with rubber cement, oil-based paints and clay cannot be recycled. Paper taped or glued together is okay to recycle as long as the adhesive is minimal. If there is more glue than paper, then throw it away.


Will our school have recycling collections during the summer?

Denver Recycles works with DPS to identify all schools that will have classes or summer camps and notifies those schools of their summer collection schedule, as it will be different from the regular school year schedule. As always, education is key to proper recycling and ensuring your recyclables are free of contamination. Please inform your summer students and visitors on the recycling guidelines. You may also want to relocate some of your recycling carts to accommodate areas (gyms, auditoriums) where students will be located.   

See What Can Be Recycled  for a detailed list.
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