Managing waste wisely

How to Reduce Waste at School

Reducing waste at school is easy, whether you’re a teacher, student, parent, or another passionate member of your school community.

If you are a Government School, remember to review the Department of Finance’s disposal of good’s policy here.

Click below for some easy ideas to manage waste:  

Administration Office

Make these simple swaps

  • Set up paper recycling bins in the office next to the general waste bins or next to the photocopier.
  • Stick a bin sign on every bin to help with waste sorting.  Try the free school bin signs from WasteSorted Schools. 
  • Swap to refillable stationery like pens, highlighters, or whiteboard markers, pencils and pencil highlighters to encourage less plastic. Set up refill stations on trays in accessible areas.  
  • Swap to paper packing tape and100% recycled paper.
  • Celebrate sustainably without balloons! Plant a tree, hang wool pompoms, use garlands of paper lanterns, fabric bunting in school colours, or blow bubbles.  use reusable decorations like fabric bunting instead of balloons
  • Advertise good quality items on Connect or other school platforms 
  • Lock your skip bins overnight and on weekends. Don’t pay to dispose of non-school waste. 
  • Ask your schools business registrar to review and update your waste contract. Many schools make savings if they find they are paying for too many bins, if their bins are too large, or for bins that are emptied too often.  
  • Invest in a paper skip bin and/or a recycling skip bin to suit the needs of your school, such as a green waste or food waste skip bin. These are generally emptied less frequently than general waste skips and can be cheaper to operate. Use the School Waste System Toolkit from Waste Sorted Schools to help. 



Wondering if your canteen can cut out single-use plastics?

Mosman Park Primary School shows you how they do it:

  • Food is served, wrapping free, from reusable trays or in paper bags.
  • Food is sold in reusable and returnable cups and spoons, washed after use in the dishwasher. These are collected in a tub next to the canteen.
  • Items are handed to student with tongs, eliminating the need for plastic wrap, serviettes and single-use plates.

Serve canteen food unwrapped and in reusable containers

Other low waste ideas

  • Buy fresh local produce and purchase pantry items in bulk
  • Switch to selling beverages in highly recyclable aluminium cans.  
  • Become a Containers for Change school. Set up the collection point next to the canteen, and use the proceeds from the containers to fund sustainable school projects.
  • For large schools, organise for the food waste from the café and boarding house to be collected by your service provider. 
  • Inspired to do more? Find out how your school can become a Green Canteen or follow up with WA School Canteen Association (WASCA).
  • Run a waste challenge, such as Plastic Free Schools Challenge  
  • Run lessons on waste and recycling, such as those from Cool Australia or WasteSorted Schools  
  • Consider becoming an accredited WasteSorted School 
  • Swap to pencils and refillable stationery, e.g. whiteboard markers or pencil highlighters 
  • Go paper-free in the classroom by projecting worksheets on the board 
  • Reuse paper by printing smaller (2 in 1), print back-to-back or make notepads from scrap paper 
  • Collect soft plastics from lunch boxes, send to REDCycle and educate students on how soft plastics are turned into new products, like classroom furniture 
  • Introduce a paper recycling bin to the classroom, then set up a bin-sorting station and teach students how to use it.
  • Stick a bin sign on every bin to help with waste sorting. Try these free bin signs from WasteSorted Schools. 

Managing litter is different from managing waste in school. 

Litter includes all kinds of discarded rubbish in the environment as a result of inappropriate disposal. Managing litter involves clean-ups and encouraging alternative behaviours. Read more about it in the Litter Strategy.  

You can find out more about programs and resources for managing litter in schools and beyond at: 

School Yard

The key to reducing school waste to landfill is to have a plan.

  • Do a waste audit first to work out how much and what type of waste they are generating. Contact WasteSorted Schools to access a free waste audit incursion per year.  
  • Make sure they have the right bins to put the waste into. There is no point collecting paper waste if you don’t have a paper recycling skip bin.
  • Stick a bin sign on every bin to help with waste sorting. Try the free school bin signs from WasteSorted Schools 
Bin stickers are a GREAT way to help students sort their waste and reduce what goes to landfill
Bin stickers are a GREAT way to help students sort their waste and reduce what goes to landfill.
  • Collect paper from classrooms, libraries, and offices.
  • Collect fruit & vegetable scraps from classrooms and the school yard for their school compost, chickens, or school worm farms. 
  • Collect beverage containers from the school yard for Container for Change. They use the 10 cents from each container to fund school sustainability projects. 
  • Collect soft plastics from the school yard (this works well in lower primary), and take to their local REDcycle collection point. Always talk to the supermarket first to arrange to drop off large quantities of soft plastics from a school. 
  • Collect recyclables from the school administration office and canteen. Try and avoid this waste stream altogether by using reusable containers in the canteen (see Mosman Park canteen), encouraging students and staff to pack waste-free lunches, and asking students and staff to take lunch packaging home where it can be rinsed and recycled easily.  
  • Ask environmental team members to act as bin monitors, helping students sort their waste into bins. 
  • Set up a Recycle Hub to collect specialised waste. Use the Specialised Schools Recycle List for ideas. 
Staff Room

Simple swaps in the school administration office can reduce waste across the whole school.

You can: 

  • Purchase a set of school branded mugs and/or cups for visitors instead of providing single-use cups. Or ask the school community to bring in an unwanted mug and start a mug library. 
  • For morning teas, ask staff to BYO plate to avoid single-use plate waste.
  • Invest in a classroom party set of reusable plates and cups. 
  • Set up a 3-bin station in the staff room – general waste, recycling, and organic waste for the school compost/worm farm. Educate school staff on how to sort their own waste so they can pass the message on to students. 
  • Stick a bin sign on every bin to help with waste sorting. Try the free school bin signs from WasteSorted Schools
Avoid single use cups in the staffroom and create a mug library from old mugs from home
Avoid single use cups in the staff room and create a mug library with old mugs from home.
Vegetable Garden
  • Visit WasteSorted Schools for resources to help set up organic waste collections, including school vegetable gardens, composts, and worm farms, and apply for grants to fund these projects. 
  • Many schools set up compost collections or worm farms to earth-cycle their lunch-time organic waste. Designate students a role to collect fruit and vegetable scraps in special collection tubs or teach students to sort their fruit and vegetable scraps into a separate school yard bin.  
  • The fertiliser from the worm farms or compost can then be used on a school vegetable garden, which can be managed by students. Students learn how to manage their food waste, create fertiliser, grow food and learn about the cycle of nutrients. The produce can be sold at assemblies, used in canteen lunches, or used in food technology classes – closing the loop on food waste.

A school vegetable garden helps students learn how to manage food waste, create fertiliser, grow food and see the nutrient cycle in action.



WMRC runs an awardwinning waste School Waste Education Day that teaches students 5 key behaviours for reducing and managing waste. This event is free for schools in our member councils and suitable for students in Years 1-6.  

Free Low-Waste Equipment Hire

WMRC hires out low-waste equipment to help make your event stand out!

Equipment for hire including games, hydration stations, bin toppers and a reusable mugs, cups and wash station and is free for hire by our member councils.  Click for more info.

Free Mulch

Schools located within our member council areas (Claremont, Cottesloe, Mosman Park, Peppermint Grove, and Subiaco) can access free mulch from the West Metro Recycling Centre. 

Please note, you will need to call the Centre to arrange mulch pick-up. The mulch needs to be loaded and collected by a member from the school. Call the Recycling Hotline 9384-6711 on weekdays, 8.30am – 4.30pm or email us.

Fact Sheets

Find these and more on our resource and fact sheet page. 

How to Reuse and Recycle Unwanted School Items

When decluttering classrooms and offices at the end of the school year, use this list to find a better place than the bin for items that still have life left in them. 


WasteSorted SchoolsState-funded program to provide support in waste management for all WA schools.  Access a free waste audit incursion per year, free professional development for teachers, waste curriculum. Once accredited in the program, your school can apply for waste grants to set up infrastructure to manage waste projects.