Reducing waste in schools

Our Tasmanian landfills are filled with useful materials like food and green waste (42%), cardboard and paper (18%) and recyclable plastics (13%) (source). Changing this situation begins with kids learning to love and care for our world. South Hobart Primary School has spent the last few years trying to work out how best to help children recycle and it appears that in order to choose the right bin for their wastes, kids like to see what others have done.

Their newest device to help kids recycle does just that (while keeping out the wasps, wind and crows). When the front flap is opened, kids can see all four options before them, then make the choice about which bin to use. The materials are colour coded and full of pictures to help kids understand which bin to use. The station was bought using City of Hobart Waste Reduction Grant funding.  

A close up look at a school waste station

A close up look at a school waste station

South Hobart Primary School has some great ideas for a very simple waste reduction program. Students now collect food waste, flexible plastics and paper in the school yard and paper in the classrooms. To help everyone understand what can be recycled, posters are displayed at the various collection points. These include on their waste station and tubs, near their worm farm and compost bays, as well as on their skip bin. 

Posters used to help everyone do the right thing


Poster showing what wastes go in the paper bin

Poster showing what wastes go in the food tubs

Poster showing what wastes go in the landfill bin


A number of school representatives visited the local Materials Recycling Facility and it was found that the co-mingled recycling collected in the school yard was not being picked off the conveyor belt as the items are too small (yoghurt tubs, straws, poppa juices, plastic cutlery, small paper lunch bags, balls of foil, etc.). Co-mingled recycling is still conducted within the classrooms and offices, just no longer in the school yard. 


Through the City of Hobart Waste Reduction Grants Program, the School is able to employ David Stephen to compost the food and green wastes on site. Over the last year he has produced over four cubic metres of soil improver for the school vegetable garden.

Poster to help people manage their green wastePoster to show people how to use the worm farm

People still use the landfill skip

The school would love to be zero waste, but that would take a concerted effort, with students, cleaning, garden, office and general staff being encouraged and supported with careful procurement, and waste management processes.  The sky is the limit with improved waste management, but with each fantastic idea comes with an accompanying work load that can be difficult to manage on a voluntary basis. For this reason, the approach to waste management at the school remains streamlined and simple. The school’s slow but determined and ongoing support for the project enables the students to learn, over time, how to dispose of their wastes most usefully and with the least environmental harm. 

Poster about avoiding landfill wastes

Flexible plastics 

Further flexible plastics information by Choice.