School Waste Reduction Programs

Schools are vital hubs to their local communities and are uniquely positioned to teach students waste reduction behaviors. Students can learn waste reduction at schools and bring that messaging home to their families, caregivers, and all those with whom they come in contact. This is especially important as SB 1383 implementation takes effect on January 1, 2022 and all levels of the community will need to be educated on appropriate organic waste recycling, edible food recovery, reduction, and diversion.

Schools and universities generate about 562,442 tons of waste each year in California. Almost half of school waste is comprised of organic materials like paper, cardboard, and uneaten cafeteria food. Much of the waste generated in the California education system is recyclable. Many school districts have been successful in improving their economic and environmental performance through the implementation of waste reduction initiatives.


Learn more about how schools and school districts can meet the requirements of California’s recycling laws.


Learn more about opportunities to reduce waste through purchasing, procurement, maintenance, and operations.


Learn more about state and national environmental award and recognition programs for schools.


The U.S. EPA food recovery hierarchy helps schools prioritize how to handle food waste.


Learn about schools that have implemented successful recycling programs.


Learn more about the types of materials a school generates to identify opportunities to reduce waste and recycle more.


Browse tips and ideas to reduce waste inside the classroom and around campus.


Funding resources for schools, teachers, and administrative staff.

For more information contact: Schools Program,