Schools are missing out on money when it comes to recycling

Schools are missing out on valuable income which could be generated from waste cardboard and commercial waste collections– as well as teaching their pupils a valuable lesson about the importance of recycling.

The 24,000 or so primary and high schools in the UK go through plenty of cardboard throughout the year, often in the form of delivery packaging for supplies such as books, pens, textbooks and other classroom essentials. But recycling and waste management experts are keen to remind schools they could be missing a trick when it comes to recycling their waste.

The average and spends between £300 and £1000 on waste disposal per year; but instead of paying for the removal of their cardboard, schools could be earning valuable funds from it instead.

Buyers of waste cardboard pay upwards of £60 per tonne of cardboard, meaning that schools could quickly offset some of their commercial waste collection costs each year simply by storing and selling the recycling cardboard they already use instead of paying for the disposal and importantly boost this by setting up a cardboard drop of scheme for parents and for local businesses who can’t afford a cardboard bin. However, said, it is possible to use their cardboard recycling scheme as a crucial life lesson for students, too.

Mark Hall, Communications Director of, said:

“Teaching young people about the importance of being environmentally friendly is absolutely key, and schools play an enormous role in helping them see the benefits of recycling their waste responsibly. If schools encouraged students and their parents to send in their own cardboard waste – freeing up valuable bin space at home – the community effort could generate more cash for crucial school supplies, teach children there’s a real, tangible benefit to recycling, and improve the local community’s attitude towards responsible waste disposal.”

The idea has many merits – the average primary school in the UK has 260 pupils, and the average secondary has 910 pupils. With funding for schools down 8% since 2009/10, inspiring young people to help contribute towards a shared recycling fund will help provide much-needed cash where schools are lacking and help support existing fundraising by the school.

Hall added: “Many parents are too busy – or too stretched financially – to contribute to yet another bake sale or raffle evening to help raise funds for their child’s school. But getting rid of your old Amazon boxes or the cardboard that came wrapped around your new sofa is not only free but a helping hand when council bin collections are less frequent than you’d like.”

With very little effort required by the school other than setting up a central collection point, these school recycling schemes could quickly generate a handy residual income source as pupils ‘donate’ scrap cardboard from Christmases, birthdays, and deliveries to be baled up and sold. suggests that schools could keep running totals of the weight of cardboard delivered to give pupils a visual connection to the benefits of recycling.

Hall concluded: “There are so many ways that schools can make this a fun, interactive way to get their pupils interested in recycling, as well as reducing costs or even making money for themselves! Challenges for pupils in different houses to see who can raise the biggest total of recycling would work well or keeping a fundraising chart on the school website showing exactly where the students’ cardboard contributions are going – for example, towards new sports equipment or computers.

“We’ve seen anecdotal evidence that schools who engage their pupils in a way that’s meaningful to their everyday lives improve those pupils’ attitudes towards the subject – and we think this is something which could really encourage recycling amongst young people. The fact that schools can make money from it makes it a win all-round!”

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