What's Recyclable?

Click Here  for a list
recyclable items
and recycling tips

Castelar Elementary: Repurposed trash
can used for recycling with yellow
lid and GSI signage.

Tray stacking is a great way to reduce waste in your cafeteria. Below is an example of a tray stacking station at Benson West Elementary School.

In 2008, OPS initiated a single-stream recycling program, expanding from its earlier program of recycling paper only. The single-stream program allows schools to recycle paper, cardboard, plastic (#1–5, 7), and metals in one container. There is no need to sort them out. Below are resources related to classroom/office recycling and cafeteria waste reduction. The district has recently placed significant emphasis on reducing waste in the cafeteria by implementing tray stacking, composting at some schools, and monitoring dumpster fullness.

The following resources provide the key information schools need to successfully start and/or maintain a recycling program:

  1. OPS Green Team Toolkit   The OPS Green Team Toolkit focuses on environmental behaviors and zero/low-cost activities that green teams can implement with relative ease and that can significantly lessen the negative environmental impact of a school community; it does not address high-cost facility renovations or specific environmental curriculum. In other words, the OPS Green Team Toolkit discusses small scale events and daily actions that students and staff can partake in to conserve resources and energy while they are at school.
  2. Recycling Tips Flyer This flyer summarizes what can be recycled as well as the key contacts throughout the district who can help answer your questions. It also has a few tips for successful recycling. 
  3. Recycling Sign (Classroom/Hallway/Office). This sign can be taped to any container used to collect recyclables. It signifies and alerts individuals that the container is for recyclables, as well as reminds them about the items that can be recycled.
  4. What Can be Recycled? This document is the official list from OPS on what can and cannot be recycled in OPS' program. Recently, gable-top and aseptic containers (such as 1/2-gallon milk and orange juice cartons) are also able to be recycled.
  5. Guide for Increasing Recycling or Waste Dumpster Pulls  This document details the OPS protocol for changing dumpster pulls.

Electronic Waste: Electronic waste includes things like computers, printers, copiers, and other equipment that has any kind of circuit board in it (like a switchboard telephone). This type of equipment often contains heavy metals in the circuitry that should not be sent to the landfill. Instead, you should take the equipment out of inventory and submit a request to district operations to pick it up. Following this procedure will both ensure that the equipment is recycled properly and that the district inventory is kept up-to-date.

The majority of OPS waste comes from the cafeteria, due to food waste, disposable trays and cutlery, milk cartons, packaging, and other items. Several schools have begun composting in the cafeteria, which is one of the best ways to reduce the amount of material sent to the landfill. This year, composting may not be possible, so below are some other ways you can reduce or recycle waste in the cafeteria. 

  1. You can consult the Cafeteria Recycling Tips handout.
  2. OPS Recycling and Grant Options: A list of possible options for cafeteria recycling containers and grants to help fund the purchase of these containers. 
  3. Suggestions for Producing a Cafeteria Recycling Video: This document notes some suggestions for creating a cafeteria recycling video if your school is interested in developing one to help promote the program and educate students/staff.
  4. Grab 'n' Go Recycling!  This document outlines some best practices for Grab 'n' Go recycling and offers a reminder of what is (and is not) recyclable
  5. Tray Stacking Guide.  This guide shows you how to set up tray stacking in your cafeteria.  See Videos tab for Miller Park's demonstration.
  6. Dumpster Fullness Assessment  Use this data sheet to monitor your school's dumpster.  By noting how full it is before picked up, you can identify opportunities to reduce waste service frequency.






High School Cafeteria Recycling Video

June 2, 2020
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Middle School Cafeteria Recycling Video

June 2, 2020
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Elementary School Cafeteria Recycling Video

June 2, 2020
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Miller Park Waste Reduction Video

June 2, 2020
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