Schools A-Z

School Recycling A-Z

How will this page help our school?

This page highlights various options and ideas for waste disposal, reuse and recycling in Cumbrian Schools. The Recycling A-Z below will help your school to decide which is the most appropriate disposal or recycling method for different waste types from your school. This is with the aim of helping head teachers, teaching staff, governors and PTA to try to manage waste to the benefit of your school and the environment, seeing waste as resource with value and not just something that should be thrown away and forgotten about. Managing waste effectively could help your school to save money and perhaps make some funds for school or raise money for a charity.

We need to start seeing waste more as a resource, as well as trying to consider the waste route after the item leaves us and the potential consequences of this route. Considering the consequences of the waste route and attempting to choose more environmentally friendly routes will also be favoured more highly when working towards Eco-School awards and during OFSTED school inspections.

This page will be useful if you are:

  • Looking to set up a recycling scheme in school, but not sure how to.
  • Want to reduce, reuse and recycle more materials in school.
  • Hoping to find out how to save money in school and raise funds for school projects and charities.
  • Working towards award schemes such as Eco-Schools.
  • Looking to make further links with the local community.

Waste auditing

A waste audit is the most important first step in setting up a waste management plan for your school. Try to break your assessment down into more manageable sections, including:
  • The quantity of waste that is being created
  • The types of waste being produced in school? and then look at whether some of these waste items-
  • Could be prevented or reduced?
  • Which items could be recycled?
  • Which items could be composted?
  • Which items should be disposed of in the general rubbish bins?
  • Which items need to be disposed of more carefully and are potentially hazardous?
  • Which items have been effected by recent regulations and can no longer be legally disposed-of in the general waste stream?

Please note:

Waste Carriers Licences: When setting up a waste/recycling collection from your school please check that the individual collection companies/organisations have a current Waste Carriers license. The Environment Agency website allows you to search for companies with Waste Carriers Licenses.

Please click here to go to the public registers webpage provided by the Environment Agency.

Please click here for further information on environmental guidance and legislation from NetRegs.

Please note:

Household Waste Recovery Centres in Cumbria can not be used for the disposal of school waste. These sites are only provided for householders to dispose of their own household waste.

Waste collection charges

Schools are Schedule 2 properties which means there will be a COLLECTION charge for waste and recyclables collected by your District Council from school. You should NOT be charged for DISPOSAL of schools waste, but this may change in April 2011. The school is entitled to have its waste collected by the District Council if it chooses to do so.

Private company collections from your school

Any school may choose NOT to use the District Council waste service, but to contract directly with a commercial waste collector. Below are some commercial waste companies operating in the county.

BIFFA UK Ltd 0191 454 7400
Enterprise 0800 521660
Cumbria Waste Management 01228 822100

Schools` Recycling A-Z

An alphabetical list of the types of `waste` that Cumbrian schools can reduce, reuse, recycle or dispose of safely. Use the A to Z below to quickly find the information you require.

| A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |

Animal and pet bedding

If you have a school compost bin, pet bedding from vegetarian pets such as rabbits and guinea pigs can be placed in here. Cat and dog waste should not be put into traditional home/school compost bins.
Please do not put any pet bedding or pet waste into a Garden Waste Collection Bin.

You may be entitled to a free compost bin for your school. Please email to find ou


Small batteries can be taken to many retail collection points for recycling. From 1st February 2010 any retailer selling over 32Kg of batteries must by law provide a free battery collection.

Why not start your own collection in school?

Please click here for information on battery recycling from: Batteryback

Batteryback provide a Free battery collection service for schools and colleges. Why not start up a school battery recycling scheme.


Reuse: You may like to have a book sale to raise money for school funds or a charity.

Reuse: Your local charity shop or book bank would appreciate books in good condition.

Recycle: For books that are unlikely to sell, these can be placed into paper recycling bins. Please pull off any hardback covers and put these covers into the general rubbish bin.

Useful links for book sharing and swapping:

Link to Book Aid International.

Another useful link: Kids and Reading


Please flatten boxes and tear large boxes into smaller more manageable sections to save space in your bin and the collection vehicle. Please remove any plastic packaging or straps from the boxes and place this material into your general waste bin.

Cardboard with food on e.g. pizza boxes should be placed in your general waste bin.


Waxed milk and juice cartons are usually not collected - Cartons are more difficult to recycle than many items as they are made of a mixture of materials and there are not currently many markets for these.

Top tip to save money and reduce waste:

How about using a jug and cups for milk time instead of cartons?

This would help to reduce the large volumes of waste currently produced from cartons across the County on every school day.


See Hazardous Waste below for further details.

Christmas cards

Various options:

  • Recycle in school recycling bin.
  • Recycle in household recycling bin.
  • Recycle at Household Waste Recovery Centres.
  • Recycle or save for another organisation.

Other options:

  • Reduce the number of cards sent by perhaps making a large class card rather than each child sending a card to all other children. In addition to this, some schools also donate money to a charity instead of purchasing cards.
  • Save to reuse for tags, shopping lists, pictures, decorations etc.


See Textiles below

Computer and computer monitors

Step 1: If you are buying new computer equipment, the company you are buying from may have a take back facility for the old appliance/s.

Please make sure that all computer data is correctly wiped from the hard drive before sending your computer for reuse or recycling. Some companies offer hard drive data destruction and documented proof of this. Please check with the individual companies as to whether they can do this.

Step 2:If the above doesn`t apply, how about contacting a local recycling company?


Some charities recycle foreign currency- here are a few:

Confidential waste

including mobile phones, papers/documents, CDs, computers etc.

Mobile phones: Please make sure that you delete any personal information from the phone memory and remove the SIM card before recycling. Please see mobile phones in this A-Z for ideas on where you can recycle your mobile phone.

Papers/documents: for further information on this.

CDs containing photos, files etc:

Some shredders have a separate shredding slot for CD`s and credit cards. If you don`t have a shredder like this, chop up credit cards or similar into a number of pieces and scratch/damage the CD`s before putting them into your general waste bin.

Computers - See information on Electrical items below

Crisp packets

See Wrappers in this A-Z

Electrical items

Step 1: - Find out if the company that you buy your electrical items from have a take back facility for old items, where the company delivering the new item will also take away the old item. Please consult individual companies/stores.

Step 2: - If not, arrange a collection through a private company.

For example

Looking for other options?

Impact Housing are a local Cumbrian charity which takes unwanted electrical items, refurbish and test them, and pass them on into the community

Why not have a look at Freegle, Freecyclenetworks.

Step 1: Find out if the company that you buy your fluorescent tubes from have a take back facility for the old tubes.

Step 2: If not, arrange a collection through a private company.

Food waste

Including plate scrapings and packed lunch waste

It is not recommended to put food waste into a conventional compost bin as this may attract vermin. There are special types of home composting units which can take food waste.

For tips and advice on how to reduce food waste, including recipe ideas for using up leftovers, please follow this link to the Love Food Hate Waste website.

Further useful links:

Foreign Currency

See Coins above

Fridges and freezers

See electrical items in this A-Z

Fruit and vegetable waste

Waste Route - school compost bin or general waste bin.

Preferred route - school compost bin, but mixed with drier carbon rich materials too. How can we get a compost bin for school?

Cumbrian schools and colleges can receive up to 2 free compost bins from Cumbria County Council if they haven`t already been provided with any in recent years and subject to available budget. Please e-mail for further information.
Useful websites for schools:
Compost tips from Recycle Now.


For good quality items, consider using a `swap shop` or arrange for a collection where the items can be reused.
`Swap shops`
Local Furniture organisations:

Impact Housing

Further useful links:
For broken items:
  • Hire a private skip or contact a private waste collection company.
  • Arrange for a bulky waste collection from your District Council - there will be a charge.

Garden equipment

Broken items should be disposed of in the general waste stream, if it is safe to do so, or repaired if this can be done to meet health and safety standards.

  • Broken electrical garden tools-
  • Broken sharp tools (non-electrical items), such as hedge cutters should be wrapped carefully in thick newspaper or bubble wrap with the edges taped so that the item does not drop out, before placing in the general waste bin.

Garden Waste

Recycling garden waste in school- what are the options?
  • A certain amount of garden waste could be composted at school in a school compost bin, providing a free and environmentally-friendly supply of nutrients for growing plants, flowers and vegetables in your garden and/or pots.
Useful websites for schools:

Larger amounts of garden waste could be managed in a garden waste heap/compost box unit at school.


Some glass, for example, window glass or heat-treated glass (e.g. Pyrex) isnot accepted for recycling in the bottle banks as they are made from different materials to bottle glass. These items melt at different temperatures to standard glass bottles, causing problems with the recycling process if mixed.

Broken mirrors, glass frames and cups etc: If you have the odd broken item, such as a glass frame or mirror, this can be put into your general waste bin. Before placing into your general waste bin, please wrap the item carefully in thick newspaper or bubble wrap and tape the edges so that it does not drop out.

Hazardous Waste

Collection from a private company for recycling or safe disposal.

A number of companies now collect chemicals, electrical and other hazardous waste items. It may be possible to set up a collection for all of these materials at the same time. Please consult the websites/contacts below for further information.

Links for chemical collections:

WasteCare Please click here to go to WasteCare.


See Fluorescent tubes on this A-Z

Milk cartons

See cartons on this A-Z

Mobile phones

Recycle these through an organised collection scheme.

Some schemes will help to raise funds for school, or you can choose to recycle for a charity. There may be further companies and charities also collecting mobile phones. This information should be available through internet search engines

Useful links:

Please make sure that you delete any personal information from the phone and SIM card before taking to a HWRC or giving away.


Most types of paper can be recycled in your school recycling bin.

The following paper types can not be collected for recycling:

  • papers covered in glue after craft work
  • papers with food or dirt on.

Paper must be clean.

If you have a school compost bin, small amounts of shredded paper and/or paper towels can be added to this at the same time as fruit waste.

Please remove plastic outer wrappings from magazines before recycling. The plastic wrappings should be placed in your General Waste Bin. If possible, please remove plastic windows from envelopes as this helps to reduce the overall contamination in the paper recycling stream.

Pet bedding

See Animal and pet bedding above

Plastic bags

Plastic bags should be put into your General Waste Bin or preferably reused for shopping or bin bags where possible.

Many supermarkets have recycling points for plastic bags.

How about reducing the use of plastic bags and using `bags for life` which many people now do?

Plastic bottles

Reduce: use refillable containers in school, instead of selling fluids in plastic bottles

Recycle: flatten bottles before putting them in your plastic recycling container to reduce the volume of waste.

Plastic tubs including margarine tubs and yogurt pots

Useful link:

Plastic packets

See Wrappers below


This should be placed into your General Waste Bin. Please remove polystyrene from any cardboard boxes before recycling the cardboard. Where possible please put polystyrene in bags to avoid pieces from blowing away into the environment, where it can be very damaging.

Printer cartridges

Recycle through an organised collection scheme.

Some schemes will help to raise funds for school, or you can choose to recycle for a charity. There may be further companies and charities also collecting ink cartridges. This information should be available through internet search engines

Some charities/companies only collect certain types of cartridges. Please check directly with the company/charity as to the types that they would like to collect.

School uniforms

See Textiles below


See Textiles below

Shredded Paper

It is very important for schools to shred confidential documents. To find out more about which documents/information are classified as confidential and the shredding process please consult the individual shredding companies listed below, or other companies listed on internet search engines.

Composting in school: Schools with compost bins can put a certain amount of shredded paper and paper towels into the mix in their compost bins, along with fruit and vegetable waste etc. However, large quantities won`t rot very well.

Shredding companies:

The Information Commissioner`s Office:


Here are 2 organisations that collect spectacles to use again:

Many opticians also have collection points for old spectacles. Please check with your local opticians.

Sports kit and shoes

See textiles below


Some charities recycle stamps- here are a few:




Please check with your local charity shop to see if they do too.


See Electrical items above

Tetra-Pak cartons

See Cartons above


Good quality, clean clothes and sometimes other types of textiles can be taken to your local charity shop for reuse. Please check with your local charity shop as to which textiles they can accept. Charity shops need a frequent supply of good quality materials for resale. Poorer quality items are often sold on to rag merchants.

Collecting textiles for charitable organisations:

Some schools arrange to do clothing collections directly for charitable organisations such as the Great North Air Ambulance Service or the British Heart Foundation. Please check with the individual charities that you would like to support, to find out their requirements and to see if they could provide collection bags for your school.

Link to textile companies who collect from schools:


See Wood below


See Textiles above

Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment

See Electrical items above


National Community Wood Recycling Project


Sweets, crisps, food wrappers

These items should all be placed into the general waste bin as they can not currently be recycled and are considered contaminants when mixed in with the other materials such as paper for recycling.

How can the schools and the wider community help achieve your goal?

Use ideas from the A-Z above.

Some examples: Perhaps the local community could help to you to collect old mobile phones, ink cartridges, stamps etc which may help to provide funds for your school or a charity. Whilst the funds may benefit your school this would also provide a useful outlet for recycling certain items for the local community.

Could the local community support projects in other ways, through link projects e.g. a local Womens Institute group or a church group may want to help you run an annual textiles repair workshop (see textiles document in the A-Z above for more), a bring-and-buy sale, or a promotion on food waste reduction e.g. cooking with leftovers.

The Eco-Schools Programme

Eco-schools are very keen on schools making strong community links so perhaps you might get some ideas from their website?

We would love to hear from your school

Website content: Please let us know the things that you like and dislike about this webpage. Any feedback or suggestions for improvement would also be much appreciated. We do our best to keep information as up-to-date as possible on this webpage. However, some things may be missed from time-to-time. Please report any broken links or information that you believe may be incorrect on this page to


The information provided on this page, along with links to websites for further reading are provided so that schools can make their own informed decisions as to what might be the best recycling/reuse options from their school. Cumbria County Council does not necessarily support the views/ideas of the companies, or linking websites listed in this document. These links and contacts are purely provided for your information and consideration. There may also be further useful contacts through internet search engines.

It is hoped that further contacts and links will be added to the School Recycling A-Z in the future. Please e-mail additional links/contacts to us for our consideration if you feel an important one has been missed from the table. Please e-mail these to

If you have a question about resources or recycling in Cumbria call our helpline on  0300 003 1118
or email us at
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