Becoming a Waste Wise school

10 Steps to getting our WasteSorted

Waste Wise Schools Schools program

10 Steps to getting our WasteSorted

The Waste Wise Schools 10 steps have been designed to foster positive waste attitudes and behaviours that are embedded in a school’s principles and philosophy, integrated into the curriculum and incorporated in the culture and daily practices of the whole school and wider school community.

The 10 steps address three areas of involvement in the school:

  1. Infrastructure – how your waste is managed, bin collection systems and assessments.
  2. Education – integrating student learning about waste and resource management.
  3. Whole school and community – encouraging a whole school approach that engages students, teachers, staff and the wider school community.

Schools are encouraged to start with small changes and slowly build on successful waste avoidance and recovery practices until a whole school approach is achieved.

As part of the 10 steps process, schools can apply for accreditation to recognise their commitment to reducing waste and ensure their eligibility for Waste Wise Schools grants.

For full details on each step, please see the Waste Wise Schools 10 Steps to getting our WasteSorted.

Learn about the Waste Wise Schools program and complete the first step towards accreditation by completing the Introduction to Waste Wise Schools online professional learning module.

This module takes approximately one hour to complete. It is divided into sections with a short quiz at the end of each section. Participants receive a certificate upon completion that can be used towards professional learning.

Forming a committee is integral to the success of task allocation and goal setting. A committee will help share the responsibility of coordinating and planning a waste wise program. Most schools include a cross-section of the school community including the principal, teachers, administrators, gardeners, canteen staff, cleaners, parents and students.

Schools that already have a sustainability committee can just add waste to their agenda.

Consider asking other committee members to complete the online professional learning module.

It is important to understand the current waste situation at your school, including how your school’s waste services work and are managed, and the waste streams currently being produced. The following two tools will give a good picture of what is happening with waste at your school. Once completed, the information is entered into your accreditation survey to establish baseline data.

  • Conduct a school waste system assessment – review the existing waste management system at your school to inform changes that could deliver positive waste and financial outcomes.
  • Conduct a waste audit – identify the types and quantities of waste generated at your school.

Use the results of your school waste system assessment and waste audit to set some achievable waste avoidance and recovery goals with your committee. Include these when writing a waste wise policy and plan for your school.

Use the Waste Wise Schools checklist to help plan and prioritise projects for your school. Many successful schools start small and gradually build on projects each year.

Download a sample waste wise plan and waste wise policy.

Accreditation provides recognition of a school’s commitment to reducing waste. It helps to embed waste avoidance and recovery into the school’s philosophy and culture and provides support for projects and initiatives. It will also increase the success of this becoming a long-term program in a school.

Once steps one to four are completed, your school can apply for Waste Wise Schools accreditation by completing the online accreditation survey. You will need to upload each of the following:

  • copy of committee meeting minutes
  • waste audit results
  • waste policy signed by the school principal
  • your school waste plan.

Waste Wise Schools are acknowledged with a metal sign to display and yearly accreditation renewal stickers. You can renew accreditation annually via an online link which is emailed to the school’s waste wise representative at the start of the year.

The Waste Authority and Minister for Environment acknowledge achievement of five and 10 years of accreditation in November each year.

Use your research to plan the school’s waste and recycling systems. Choose suitable infrastructure, such as the right colour bins and signage, to help students and staff correctly use the systems and avoid contamination.

For full details on how to set up recycling; bin signs and locations; composting and worm farming; and other waste streams to recycle, please see the 10 steps guide.

Waste Wise Schools grants provide funding to accredited schools to set up infrastructure for waste avoidance and recovery projects.

Find out more about waste wise grants.

Most schools start with paper recycling, as this is usually the largest source of waste in a school. From there they add other waste streams, like food scraps, using priorities identified in their waste audit. By using a step by step process these schools are having long-term success.

Consider the day to day handling of waste (such as emptying collection bins) and involving students in the running of your waste wise program. Many schools do this through class rosters and delegation of tasks.

The Green Team toolkit and student engagement toolkit (due to be published in 2021) can help with this, as well as sample rosters.

Inform the whole school community about your new waste collection systems. Make sure students, staff and all involved are clear about correct bin use.

Many schools use our curriculum resources for hands-on, practical learning experiences linked to the Western Australian Curriculum. Topics such as recycling, plastics, gardening and organics are easy to integrate into English, Mathematics, Science and Humanities and Social Sciences. The 10 steps guide also lists other resources that teachers may find useful. 

The most successful schools build a whole school approach to waste management, ensuring that waste wise values become integrated into the school culture and daily practices.

These schools utilise the different skills in their school community to share the workload and add value to their waste wise program. The Waste Wise Schools checklist contains ideas for practical ways to involve the whole school and wider community.

Successful schools also monitor and evaluate their waste wise projects on a regular basis and review their plan.

Schools do this by using the visual bin audit tool to quickly assess if staff and students are using the correct bins and to identify other waste streams that could be avoided or recovered. 

Some schools repeat the school waste system assessment annually to ensure bin systems and waste contracts are streamlined, and cost savings are maximised.