School Waste Assessment Tool

  • Introduction
  • 1Gather support
  • 2 Waste audit
  • 3 Develop plan
  • 4 Implement plan
  • 5 Review

Doing a waste management plan can deliver a range of benefits for your school.

Follow the five steps in our school waste assessment tool to build a waste management action plan for your school.

Step 1: Gather supportForm a waste action team made up of teaching and non-teaching staff (eg cleaners, tuckshop convenor, business service manager, ground-staff), parents and students. Nominate one person to be the coordinator.
Step 2: Collect informationEvaluate current waste and recovery systems.
Step 3: Develop a waste management action planCreate an action plan that provides a systematic and structured approach for reducing waste and saving costs.
Step 4: Implement planIntroduce strategies outlined in plan.
Step 5: Review and monitorThe school waste management plan is a work in progress and ongoing monitoring and evaluation are essential to ensure the success of your plan.
Gather support
School details
Waste action team

The foundation to a successful waste minimisation program is to develop a whole-school approach. The more people who are involved in the process, the more people there are to take ownership of the process and help to bring about behaviour change.

Establish a coordinator and a working group.

Involve the whole school community including:

  • the principal, teachers and other staff
  • parents and caregivers
  • tuckshop convenor
  • grounds staff
  • cleaners
  • administration staff
  • students
Working group
Collection waste information

Collecting information about your school’s current waste procedures will help to identify the amount and types of waste being sent to landfill, and highlight potential opportunities for minimising waste.

An assessment of current waste management practices involves:

  • auditing the quantity and types of waste being generated
  • reviewing current waste systems
  • recognising strategies that are working well
Business and operational waste information
List other waste minimisation strategies (eg green waste collection, composting, nude food days, chooks.)
Waste audit

A waste audit is a process designed to analyse the amount and types of waste being generated by an organisation such as a school. It provides the baseline data against which all future waste minimisation strategies can be measured.

There are two different types of waste audits that provide valuable information for minimising school waste.

  • A visual waste audit involves a visual inspection of external waste bins to determine how full they are when they are put out for collection. This will allow you to determine how much waste is being generated by the school every week and over the course of a 40 week school year.
  • A solid waste audit involves an examination of a number of internal bins within the school to reveal what types of waste are being disposed of and how much of this waste could be recovered through reuse, recycling or composting. For step by step instructions on how to carry out a solid waste audit refer to Solid waste audit instructions.

Total amount of waste generated will be displayed at the end of Step 2.

Visual waste audit for general waste, recyclables and green waste bins
Solid waste audit

It’s time to look at what is in your general waste bins and work out how much of this could be recovered.

Before you begin, ensure that you have a number of general waste bins from within the school containing a day’s worth of rubbish. The more bins that you audit, the more accurate the findings will be. At the very minimum, audit one bin from an eating area and one bin from a classroom.

Your waste audit results

Visual waste audit

Your school throws out litres of waste each year, % of this waste is recycled. Your current waste profile is illustrated below.

Litres of waste generated per school year (40 weeks)

Solid waste audit

Results from the solid waste audit show that % of what is currently going in your general waste bins could be recycled and an additional % is organic waste that could be composted. In total, % of waste currently going to landfill could be recovered through recycling and composting.

Develop a waste management action plan

The information and data collected should enable you to create a waste management plan and prioritise key issues.

Click on each of the following focus areas for suggested ideas to help you to develop your plan.

Your selected options will be added to the action plan that will be sent you you at the end of this process.

Create your waste management action plan
Packaging and purchasing
Reducing Waste
Nude Food Lunches
Organic Recycling
Making your plan work

Once planning is complete it is time to implement your waste management action plan. It is a good idea to start small and implement one new action at a time.

Elements for success

  • Bin infrastructure, placement and signage

    Brisbane City Council officers are able to conduct a free site visit and provide practical advice on waste and recycling collection services, bin infrastructure, bin configuration, signage and setting up an effective collection system within the school.

    Schools that have the bulk of their waste collected by Council are able to have their recycling collected free of charge by Brisbane City Council.

    Contact for more information.

  • Organic recycling

    Council officers are able to provide advice and assistance with composting and worm farming. Council also offers free community compost and worm farming workshops that are held at the school, but presented by Council’s Waste Education Officers.

  • Communication

    Ensure that the whole school knows about the new waste initiatives by promoting the school waste management plan in the newsletter, on the website, at assembly, via posters and videos and through competitions.

    Contact Council for sample newsletter articles, parent letters and media releases that can be modified to promote new waste reductions strategies such as recycling that are introduced by your school.

  • Student involvement

    Involve students in the development, promotion and successful implementation of the waste action plan.

    Create an environmental student team, for example, The Waste Warriors, who can educate others within the school community about the new waste initiatives. The Waste Warriors could give a presentation at Assembly, or to the Parents and Friends Association. Council can provide your school with a Golden Bin Award which can be presented at Assembly by the Waste Warriors to students who are ’waste wise’.
  • Education

    Brisbane City Council offers free Rethink Your Rubbish waste education programs to school and kindergarten groups as part of its commitment to reduce waste and increase the recovery, reuse and recycling of resources.

    More details can be found.

  • Events

    Take advantage of events such as Clean Up Australia Day, Nude Food Week, National Recycling Week or World Environment Day to highlight waste issues and reinforce the importance of minimising waste.

Review and monitor

Congratulations on developing and implementing your waste management plan and helping to create a cleaner, greener environment.

To ensure the success of your waste management plan continue to monitor the effectiveness of waste minimisation strategies on an ongoing basis to identify any issues that need to be addressed.

Every piece of waste that you save from going to landfill helps to save energy, water and non-renewable resources for future generations.

Celebrate and promote your achievements!

For further information, fact sheets, lesson plans and additional resources contact Council