Reading, Writing, ‘Rithmetic and Recycling

In addition to the traditional educational curriculum, teaching students how to be good citizens is one of the primary goals of our schools. However, in today’s environment of ever growing budget constraints, school districts are forever trying to do more with less – which is the philosophy of recycling: less waste, more resources saved. 

Last year the Dehesa School District diverted half their waste from local landfills, reduced the workload (the lifting and carrying) for their custodial staff, and reduced their waste management expenses by more than half. All this was done by implementing a recycling program on campus – a program designed specifically for the district through a County of San Diego Recycling Assistance Program.  

“The county came in with a team who gave us valuable information, insights and suggestions. They left us with a dedicated commitment to develop  district-wide program that involved staff, students, and even parents,” said Tim Scheidt, the business manager for the Dehesa School District. “They consistently maintained a healthy focus on building capacity and not dependency.”

“In a time of tight budgets, reduced staff, and increased enrollment, maximizing school resources is more important than ever,” commented Jen Winfrey, Recycling Specialist at the County of San Diego. “The State’s recently adopted recycling regulation, Assembly Bill 341, requires schools and public agencies generating more than four cubic yards of waste each week to arrange for recycling service.” 

Studies show that roughly 35% of a school’s waste stream is easily recyclable through regular recycling collection. Additional waste reduction programs can address another 30% of the waste comprised of organics such as food and yard waste.

“Simple recycling programs can save money on disposal costs of these items, reduce the workload of custodial staff and provide the perfect opportunity to foster environmental stewardship in students,” said Winfrey.

The County of San Diego offers  free waste reduction and recycling services to schools and school districts – both public and private – throughout the unincorporated County. The service includes:

  • Consultations with management on waste management practices.
  • Identification of new revenue streams and potential cost savings in waste management and hauling contracts.
  • Setup: 
    • Setup of recycling zones – equipment and signage provided by County. 
    • Co-ordination with haulers to right-size waste and recycling service.
    • Training and education catering to custodians, teachers, students and school community members.
    • Consultations with food service staff on reducing and composting lunch time waste. 
  • Troubleshooting and follow-up. 

Schools and businesses that would like to contract with the County to provide recycling services are requested to contact Sarah Boltwala-Mesina, the County’s consultant for this project, at (858) 775-5235 or to confirm eligibility.