Reducing School Waste

Measuring your school waste

The first step to reducing waste at schools (and childhood education centres) is to measure the amount of waste that is generated by the whole school's activities, and find out how much it costs to dispose of the waste.

We suggest smaller schools store a week’s worth of waste and larger schools store one or two day’s worth, then students can sort the waste into separate waste types (for example paper – recyclable and non-recyclable, plastic – recyclable and non-recyclable, metal, food waste and garden waste) and weigh each waste type.

Once you know how much waste is being generated, you can work out a strategy to reduce, reuse, recycle or reprocess the different parts of the waste pile in order to stop sending so many resources to landfill.

Tips to help you reduce waste at your school

  • Print double-sided onto paper when you’re preparing resources or handouts
  • Reuse your one-sided paper as scrap paper, and reuse envelopes
  • Think about the packaging that your office or cafeteria brings in: try to buy products with recyclable packaging and minimal packaging, buy in bulk to reduce packaging, and see if your suppliers will remove materials such as plastic wrap, strapping etc for recycling
  • Buy products made of recycled materials
  • Encourage ‘litter free’ lunches for students (and teachers) to promote the use of reusable bottles, cups, lunch boxes and bags or food containers, and to avoid pre-packaged foods and plastic wrap
  • Recycle all that you can, either with the Council’s kerbside collection, or at the transfer station (remember, recycling is free)
  • Send your printer or photocopier toner cartridges to be recycled
  • Start composting at your school to compost food waste, garden waste and even paper towels. Then you can use the compost, worm wee and other wonderful by-products in your school’s garden – or sell them as a fundraiser!
  • Recycle old computer equipment and other electronic equipment. Some companies take back the old computers when they upgrade them.

Assisted kerbside recycling programme for schools

Schools on Ministry of Education or non-rateable land are not charged the targeted kerbside collection rate and so would not normally be eligible to receive the Council’s kerbside collection service.

However the Council has offered a kerbside recycling programme to schools and early education centres inside its kerbside collection areas, as from 24 June 2011. Weprovide recycling wheelie bins for all eligible schools and early education centres at a ratio of one 240 litre bin per three classrooms, in order to promote and encourage recycling at school.

For more information on this service, download the programme information and application form (pdf, 210.4 KB).

School waste minimisation programmes

The Council funds two school sustainability programmes to provide local schools resources and assistance to minimise waste, as well as part-fund the Paper4trees Programme.

Waste and water education programme

The Council and Eco Educate have developed a  waste minimisation and water conservation education programme, which is free to all of the district’s schools and early childhood education centres.

The programme focuses on involvement from children as well as teachers, the principal, Board of Trustees and the caretaker. The initial aim is to develop a school vision, then follows measurement: how much rubbish is dumped, what recycling is done and how much water and power is used by the school.

Lesley Ottey, the Enviro-Educator, is available to talk to you about the programme.

Contact our Enviro-Educator

To contact Lesley, phone 027 333 1344 or email her at

The One Planet website also provides school lesson plans for primary and secondary schools.

Enviroschools Canterbury

The Enviroschools programme is aimed at guiding and supporting schools to become more sustainable across five key areas: Zero Waste, Water of Life, Energy, Ecological Building, Living Landscapes.

The Council is a funding partner of Enviroschools Canterbury, which is a partnership between Environment Canterbury, Waimakariri, Hurunui, Timaru, McKenzie and Selwyn District Councils, Department of Conservation and the Enviroschools Foundation with support from the Christchurch City Council ' Strengthening communities fund and the Toimata Foundation.

There are 19 Enviroschools in the Waimakariri District as at December 2019. Visit Enviroschools to check out which schools are participating.

Paper 4 Trees

The Paper4trees programme is coordinated by the Tauranga-based Environmental Education for Resource Sustainability Trust, and rewards participating schools who recycle paper and cardboard by giving them native tree seedlings.

The programme has been introduced to schools throughout New Zealand. As of the end of Term 2 in 2019, 34 schools and preschools in the Waimakariri District had signed up for the programme. They ordered 252 trees between them in the 2018.19 year, which means they recycled a total of 65 tonnes of paper and cardboard.  This has saved 517 cubic metres of landfill space, and stopped 349 tonnes of carbon from being produced at landfill.

Since Council began supporting the programme in 2008, participating schools have received 2,922 native trees, recycled 673 tonnes of paper and cardboard, saved 5,390 cubic metres of landfill space and stopped 3,638 tonnes of CO2 from being produced at Kate Valley Landfill.

Fonterra Milk for Schools

Fonterra Milk for Schools offers all New Zealand primary-aged school children Years 1-6  a free serving of milk every school day.

As part of the programme, all participating schools receive free leased fridge(s) to chill the milk, a free recycling kit consisting of bins and liner bags, and the free collection and recycling of all Fonterra Milk for Schools milk packs.

If you would like to find out more about Fonterra Milk for Schools, visit