How to reduce waste and recycle at school

Reducing, reusing and recycling waste at school is good for the environment, enriches the curriculum, helps schools to become more sustainable and can result in money savings.

An effective way to reduce waste and recycle at school is to have a whole school approach, therefore building ownership amongst the school leadership team, the school support staff and the teachers so that the responsibility for embedding waste minimisation and recycling is shared and acted upon across the school. This enables legacy to build into the activities carried out around the school and allows the school to sustain improvements in waste reduction and recycling.

Food Waste in Schools

Around half of the rubbish thrown away from schools is food  – which could be wasting hundreds of pounds a year as well as the energy and water used to produce the food in the first place.

There are many reasons why food is wasted at school – from too much food being prepared and not served, to food being thrown away uneaten because of portion sizes, taste, lack of time, poor dining experience or a combination of all these factors.

Finding out how much, and why, food is being wasted at your school is the first step.  Weigh the leftover food from lunches, you can record it on our food waste calculator (.xlsx) and work out how much money (and elephants) you could save!

You can get your pupils involved in finding out why food is wasted with a plate waste survey (.docx).

Once you know where and why food is being waste, check out WRAP’s  great resources to help you get started on tackling food waste at school.

To get you started have a look at the background information on food waste.

Ways to increase familiarity with foods and engage children with food are here

There are lots of ideas for improving the dining experience here

If you are thinking of introducing a cook to order system, WRAP have a how-to guide 

For other ideas, have a look at our menu of food waste ideas here

If you would like support  (including equipment loan) to run food waste activities in school, we may be able to help – please contact us.


Plogging is a way to keep fit and keep the environment clean. Plogolution are a local organisation who will help your school set up your own plogging club to jog and pick up litter.  All litter picked up is counted and logged onto a central database to show just how much school children are doing to keep their environment clean and safe.

You can find out more about Plogolution here.