When it comes to paper waste, it is undoubtable that our schools are some of the largest contributors. In fact, the average UK school produces more waste in a single year than the average household produces in their lifetime. But why are schools producing so much paper waste and what can be done to reduce this? In this blog from ETM Recycling, we discuss why schools produce so much paper waste and how this can be reduced – going on to note ways in which schools can reuse their paper.

For more information related to recycling and waste management, visit our blog. Existing articles include How to Deal with Overweight Waste Containers, Why you Need a Builder’s Skip for a Home Renovation and Do I Need a Permit for My Skip.


Why do Schools Produce so Much Paper Waste?

 Educating large numbers of pupils takes a large number of resources. If each school has numerous teaching sessions taking place at the same time, each of which contains up to 35 students, 5 times per day – it’s easy to see how paper use can stack up quickly. When reviewing trends in paper use, primary schools appear to contribute larger quantities of paper waste than secondary schools.

While in secondary schools, sessions are often centred around teachers presenting information with students listening and taking notes in exercise books or on laptops. Primary formats often require a more engaged approach that involves children being led by printed worksheets or practical tasks involving paper.

However, teaching is not the only source of paper waste in schools. Visually engaging wall displays, projects and group activities all contribute to a notable increase in paper usage. Not to mention the many newsletters, reports and permission slips sent to parents over the course of the academic year.


How to Reduce Paper usage?

As society continues to move towards a more sustainable way of living, our schools and education centres have a vital role to play in reducing their paper waste. As a hub for our future generations, where would be better to educate young people on sustainable waste practices than our schools? Below we outline a handful of ways to reduce the paper waste created by schools.


Encourage the Use of Paperless Practices

 When working with large numbers of students, it’s easy to become dependent on a printer for all your teaching resources. However, with the range of online learning environments available to schools – a switch to digital resource distribution could help reduce unnecessary paper waste. For example, shifting towards online homework, revision resources or even parent newsletters not only reduce the quantity of paper used but also the quantity of litter on school grounds.


Invest In Technology

While a shift to exclusively digital teaching is unrealistic for many schools, investing in a handful of laptops, iPads or tablets may provide teachers greater freedom from paper resources in the classroom. Incorporating a mixture of paper and digital work may also provide some welcome variation for children who become easily bored with teaching tasks – leading not only to a reduction in paper use but an increase in pupil engagement too.


Keep Paper Bins Close By

One way to maximise the uptake of paper recycling by students is to make recycling as easy as possible. Schools may do this by ensuring that each classroom features a paper recycling bin. With recycling bins close to hand, students have a greater incentive to dispose of their paper more responsibly.


Educate Your Students

When it comes to recycling, a group approach is likely to bring about better results. Schools may wish to incorporate education about recycling into classwork or group sessions such as assemblies. School days offer an optimal opportunity to educate large groups of students at one time. The more students understand about recycling, the greater likelihood your school has of seeing greater interest in recycling practices and reductions in overall paper waste.


How to Reduce Paper Waste and Reuse Paper More

While it is valuable to focus on how schools can dispose of their paper more efficiently, the value of reusing paper should also be explored. Simple ways in which schools can get the most out of their paper include:


Always use Both Sides

While simple, it is valuable for teachers to ensure that all paper resources that are used are used to their fullest. Wherever possible, teachers can encourage students to use both sides of any paper that is handed out.


Waste Paper Activities

In addition to teaching core subjects, many schools also choose to maximise opportunities for their students to demonstrate creativity and ingenuity with practical tasks. Students may be tasked to construct a particular structure or create a design model for a product as a part of sessions centred around engineering or business. Pre-used paper could also be offered a new lease of life during art sessions for students – reducing the need for new resources to be used every time.


Use Outside of the Classroom

In addition to being used in the classroom, paper can also be re-used for other purposes. Paper may be reused for:

  • Pet bedding – shredded paper offers a perfect comfortable environment for small pets that can be easily changed when needed.
  • Packing Material – scrunched or shredded paper can act as a resourceful packing material should your school ever send out small packages to students or parents.
  • Seedling Pots – During the spring and summer, many schools seize the opportunity to teach their students about plant life cycles and growing conditions. Previously used papers or newspapers could be used as homemade pots for seedlings.
  • Composting – Similarly, many schools also operate gardening clubs or designated gardening spaces. Shredded paper can be added to compost as a rich source of carbon.


Manage Paper Waste with ETM Recycling

ETM Recycling offers some of the leading waste disposal, services across Bristol and the South West. Prioritising environmentally ethical practices, our services are perfect for schools striving to meet their environmental goals. Reducing paper waste in a school setting can seem a daunting task, luckily ETM recycling is available to offer tailored guidance for schools with our Recycling and Waste Management Services. With a wide host of industry experience and excellent local connections, we are on hand to help your school find the right paper recycling solution for them. For more information about how ETM recycling could support your school, enquire today.