Recycling schemes for schools

Encourage the families at your school to have a good clear out by setting up some recycling schemes

Kids grow out of stuff pretty quickly – clothes, DVDs, toys. But we adults do a good job of accumulating clutter too! So encourage the families at your school to have a good clear out by setting up some recycling schemes.

Recycling schemes are a fantastic way to raise money without the time and effort that holding an event takes. Indeed, they can be a great additional source of revenue to complement more sociable fundraisers. For those on your committee (or other volunteers) who want to help, but are short of time, running one or two recycling collections a year is a great way to help. Encourage local businesses and the wider community to support your scheme – saving printer cartridges for example – to maximise your profits.

Table top sales

Remember, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure! Organise the sale for a Saturday, indoors – let’s be honest, we can’t trust our British weather – and give parents plenty of time to sort through their lofts, wardrobes and under-stairs cupboards. Ask for donations to be brought to school in bags on the Friday afternoon, and allocate a sub-committee to sort the items, separating them into:

  • books, toys and games
  • bric-a-brac
  • men’s clothes
  • ladies’ clothes
  • children’s clothes

Ensure that every item is displayed neatly on large tables, with plenty of space between them so people can browse at their leisure (hang any curtains or bedding around the hall to display them). On the day, ensure you have plenty of volunteers on hand to sell goods and haggle with customers – you may wish to put prices on goods, or you may want to give the buyers some discretion with rough pricing in place, eg books 20p, kids T-shirts £1. Ensure you allow space for your second-hand uniform stall.


Textile recycling schemes are a great way to raise money. Clothes, curtains, bedding, shoes, bags, and soft toys can be recycled using one of the textile collection companies available, such as Rags2Riches4Schools. They will pay you a fixed price per kilo of clothing collected. By scheduling your table top sale a couple of months prior to this, you can neatly dispose of any leftovers.

Printer cartridges

This scheme has great potential because you can ask local businesses to support your efforts. Although your school will get through a huge amount of printer cartridges over the year, you can bet your bottom dollar that the office next door goes through even more! Send a letter to local businesses explaining your scheme, asking for their support and providing a collection bag/box. Visit them every month or so to take the cartridges away (not many businesses will want to keep cartridges overflowing in the corner of their office for months at a time). Companies such as will pay £1 for every cartridge they can successfully recycle, so this really is a simple money spinner.

Mobile phones

Everyone has a mobile phone these days, so take advantage of the ever-changing models by collecting unwanted phones. Use a company such as To really capitalise on your collection, and make links with businesses in your community, why not ask local mobile phone retailers to put up a poster about your school’s recycling scheme in their shop window, with details of a drop-off point. Or better yet, persuade the shop to save old phones for you and appoint someone to collect them once a week.


When your stack of CDs, DVDs and games is taller than your five-year-old it’s perhaps time to think about doing the honourable thing and giving up the oldies you never listen to/watch/play for collection. For a faff-free solution, visit Simply enter the barcodes of old CDs, DVDs and games to see how much they are worth, pop them all into one box and send them off for free. You must collect a minimum of 100 items before the company collects, but if you put a box in the reception of your school, this will fill up surprisingly quickly. As long as the original sleeve is intact, with a visible barcode on the back, it can be recycled (although make it clear to parents that promotional DVDs and CDs, such as those that come free with newspapers, don’t count).

Hard to recycle waste

TerraCycle’s recycling schemes aim to help schools reduce the amount they send to landfill and incineration. As well as signing up for free programmes run in partnership with individual brands, schools can purchase Zero Waste Boxes. These offer a way to recycle some of the most difficult to recycle everyday items of school waste. The price includes the cost of sending the empty box to the school, a prepaid shipping label to send the full box back to TerraCycle, and the recycling process itself.