5 Steps to Become Waste Wise

A successful Waste Wise School program involves the integration of curriculum and waste conscious school operations. The benefits are multi-faceted: educational, environmental, and economical.

5 stepsThe following five stepped guide is modelled on The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection’s Five Steps to Waste Reduction.


What is involved?
  • Discuss with key stakeholders to identify the issues
  • Form a task force or action group
  • Review existing school policies in relation to waste
  • Committed group of key people with clear understanding of the issues
  • Adoption of an Environment Policy formally proclaiming the school’s commitment to environmental sustainability and education, notably through waste minimisation.
  • Signing of a Letter of Commitment demonstrating the school’s commitment in incorporating Waste Wise principles in everyday school practices.

The Waste Hierarchy describes the principles of waste minimisation and their level of importance — Avoid, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle then Disposal. A school waste minimisation plan should always seek to avoid, reduce or reuse waste prior to recycling.

Data and Information Gathering

What is involved?
  • Surveys — teachers and students can develop and carry out surveys seeking information such as recycling knowledge, littering behaviour and waste implications on the global scale.
  • Audits – collecting and sorting waste materials provides important information in regards to volumes and types of waste.  When conducted at class levels, waste audits also provide excellent opportunities to raising awareness and analytical skills (contact your local Environmental Education Officer for assistance).
  • Mapping – use plans of the school, identify litter hot spots, sites of waste generation and placement of bins stations.
  • Integrate the above activities into existing curricular, notably in maths and science.
  • Specific information to develop an Action Plan
  • Baseline data to measure the success of the program
  • Raised awareness and interest in waste among participants

Develop a Waste Minimisation Action Plan

What is involved?
  • Use the collected data and information to clarify and prioritise issues.
  • Brainstorm on actions required to deal with the issues: Get a team together, target certain waste streams, for instance reduce lunch packaging or compost food scraps.
  • Consider the logistics of the plan, including added responsibilities of key staff such as cleaners and ground staff (get them involved) and any additional resources required (speak with your local council for assistance).
  • Set realistic goals, objectives and timeframes. Start with improving paper recycling or waste management in the classroom.

A Waste Minimisation Action Plan, with clear and realistic goals, objectives, activities, timeframe and targets, incorporating waste education with changes in school operations. Responsibilities and resource requirements are identified.

Implementation of the Action Plan

What is involved?
  • Clearly informs the school community about the details of the Action Plan and the role of the community.
  • Encourages students’ understanding and participation of the Action Plan through awareness activities (e.g. student jingles, awards, posters, presentations…).
  • Assign key positions (Eco club, recycling monitors, litter patrol).
  • Elicits support from other stakeholders (e.g. P&C Groups).
  • Publicise and promote the Action Plan through media releases.
  • Process of waste and litter minimisation initiated, and if implemented effectively, substantial results would follow.
  • Environmental ethics among the school community strengthened.

Monitoring and Evaluation

What is involved?
  • Regular audits, surveys and data collection for comparisons with baseline information.
  • Based on the above information, evaluate progress and effectiveness of the various interventions and the Action Plan as a whole.
  • Consult and discuss with key people for feedback and suggestions.
  • Review and revise the Action Plan periodically, incorporating the lessons learnt through the implementation, identify new targets and opportunities.

Objective assessment of the effectiveness of the Action Plan, allowing an evolving Action Plan that brings you closer to the goal of Zero Waste.