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California K-12 Schools Recycling Challenge!


The California Recycling Challenge is a friendly competition and benchmarking tool for K-12 school recycling programs to promote waste reduction activities to their school communities. Over a one month period, schools report recycling and trash data which are then ranked according to who collects the largest amount of recyclables per capita, the largest amount of total recyclables or have the highest recycling rate.


With each week’s reports and rankings, participating schools watch how their results fluctuate against other schools and use this to rally their school communities to reduce and recycle more.


The competition is conducted on a “Per Capita” basis to allow schools/districts of all sizes to participate.  The program is intended to include the faculty, staff, students, and custodial staff.  The competition was conducted during the months of October and November and competitors were encouraged to support recycling events in conjunction with America Recycles Day, November 15th.


Like “RecycleMania,”  “Greensylvania,” and the “Ohio School Recycling Challenge” on which the California K-12 Schools Recycling Challenge has been based, we hope to not only generate enthusiasm for recycling but to teach the K-12 students how recycling benefits their school, their community, and the environment,  and what is at stake if we do not increase our recycling rate and divert additional waste from the landfills.


As a continued feature for the 2012 California K-12 Schools Recycling Challenge, any school that entered the California competition will be automatically entered in Keep America Beautiful’s Recycle-Bowl National Competition as well!


Overall Goals for California K-12 Schools Recycling Challenge

  • Have a fair and friendly recycling competition.
  • Increase recycling participation by students, staff and community members.
  • Heighten awareness of schools’ waste management and recycling programs.
  • Have the competition serve as a catalyst for K-12 schools and/or school districts to build and expand waste reduction programs.
  • Organize this event successfully so it can be repeated and possibly expanded to other schools and states in the future.

Why Is There a Need for California K-12 Schools Recycling Challenge?

With over 9,890 public schools organized in over 1,000 districts to serve more than 6.3 million students across California, K-12 schools consume large amounts of resources and generate much solid waste. Add on another 600,000 students in private schools and all the teachers, staff and administration employed by all schools and it is safe to say that one out of six Californians is “At School” each day.  Schools can help communities reduce their waste, while saving money and teaching kids valuable lessons.  Wheather a school has an extensive waste reduction program or is just getting basic recycling collections off the ground, experience has shown that all schools have potential to further reduce the amount of resources they consume and dispose of. Many school districts have been successful in improving their economic and environmental performance through the implementation of waste reduction initiatives!

The California K-12 Schools Recycling Challenge provides a tool for school district recycling coordinators, teachers, student green teams and waste management professionals to engage their school community in recycling and waste reduction in a fun and friendly way. Environmental messages cannot always motivate action by themselves.  Students love a competition: challenging the classroom next door, or joining forces to beat the cross district rival helps drive their desire to be part of the team.  In the process, participation in the competition familiarizes students with a school’s recycling programs and hopefully instills in them a lifelong habit.

Throughout this site, you will find links to resources and information about successful waste prevention, composting, and recycling programs in schools throughout California.


California K-12 Schools Recycling Challenge Administration

This pilot project is being developed and administered by Keep California Beautiful in partnership with Keep America Beautiful, CalRecycle, Collaborative for High Performance Schools, California Resource Recovery Association, Green Technology, and Green Technology Smart Media.

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