During the 2013 Green Schools National Conference a solution summit was held to define the most barriers to schools in becoming zero waste and to brainstorm the best solutions to overcome those barriers. In the end, we had 5 overarching categories of barriers—education, engagement, infrastructure & feasibility, data & knowledge gaps, and resources, as well as a list of potential 31 solutions.

Out of this session, a working group was formed to pursue these solutions for zero waste in schools. This working group is facilitated by Keep America Beautiful, and includes members from Project Learning Tree, Keep America Beautiful affiliates, Waste Management, NAESP, and Green Schools, among others. The group’s first task was to condense and prioritize the brainstormed solutions based on how much impact we believed the solution would have and how feasible it would be for our group to work on.

In the end of this process, the group had a total of 6 solutions.

  1. Promoting professional development around waste
  2. Working with custodian associations
  3. Compiling a resource toolkit on engagement
  4. Creating an RFP template to assist schools in soliciting recycling haulers
  5. Conducting a national school recycling study or compiling existing literature
  6. Building a methodology for waste assessments

We felt that it is highly likely that resources may already exist for each of these solutions, so rather than reinvent the wheel, the working group decided to create a survey to solicit those resources. Once collected, we want to make them more accessible for all by putting them in a central location.

I have been asked to help distribute the aforementioned survey to collect resources that already exist on the issue of Zero Waste in schools. I would greatly appreciate your participation in this survey in order to advance this extremely important topic. All responses need to be recorded by November 15th. Thank you for your participation!


If you would like more information about this working group or the survey, please contact Katy Phelps at RecyclingIntern4@kab.org

Author: Katy Phelps