Santa Barbara County, CA School Recycling Program

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Santa Barbara County, CA, US

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Type: Program

Status: Ongoing

Source File:


The County Public Works Department, Resource Recovery and Waste Management Division, offers a variety of services to schools in the unincorporated areas of the County that want to start, improve, or expand their recycling programs.

Why Should We Start A New Recycling Program At Our School?
Now, more than ever, it is essential that the children in Santa Barbara County learn the value of natural resources (including trash!) and the critical role that each of us plays in maintaining a sustainable Santa Barbara County that is free of pollution.

More than 8,000 tons of waste are estimated to be generated each year by the more than 70,000 students and 7,500 staff throughout Santa Barbara County public schools. Schools can make a significant contribution to our communities by reducing the amount of waste going to our landfills. By participating in a commingled recycling program, schools can divert upwards of 80 percent of their waste!

What Are The Benefits Of A Recycling Program?
By making waste reduction and recycling a part of the learning environment, your school will be a role model for the community. Other schools and institutions will see you and your students making a large difference in the overall waste stream and quality of life in the County. In addition, the right recycling program can result in lowered costs and a valuable hands-on experience for students.

What Kinds of Assistance Are Available?

Waste Audits
A County staff member will conduct a waste audit, which involves examining the types of recyclable materials that are being thrown away as trash and estimating the percentage that these materials comprise of the total. The staff member will then ask to be given a tour of the school to see where trash containers are located in the classrooms and offices, as well as the outdoor areas of the campus.

Development of Recycling Proposals
Based on the information gathered from the waste audit, a proposal will be prepared identifying the costs for adding recycling service and projecting the estimated cost savings that can be achieved due to a decrease in trash costs. The County staff member will then make recommendations regarding the number and placement of recycling containers.

Recycling Containers
Based on a school's needs and the County's budgetary constraints, the County will provide indoor and outdoor recycling containers. When appropriate, the County will also coordinate with a school's waste hauler to provide outside recycling containers.

Outreach Materials
In addition to recycling containers, the County Public Works Department offers posters, magnets and stickers that show pictorially the types of materials that can and cannot be placed in commingled recycling containers in Santa Barbara County. Posters 8 11/2" x 11" and 11" x 17" are available in English and Spanish for display in classrooms and offices.

We also offer stickers (7" x 8") that may be placed on recycling containers. The posters, magnets, and stickers may be obtained by contacting the County Public Works Department, Resource Recovery & Waste Management Division.

Upon request, presentations may be given by County staff or staff from Art from Scrap to individual classes and school assemblies on waste reduction based on the philosophy of "reduce, reuse, and recycle." Staff members from Art from Scrap also conduct workshops on composting and pollution prevention in terms of improving creek and ocean water quality.

Tours of Tajiguas Landfill and South Coast Recycling and Transfer Station
County staff members conduct tours of the Tajiguas Landfill and South Coast Recycling and Transfer Station for school groups. During the tour of the Tajiguas Landfill, children can learn where trash is dumped, how methane gas is captured and converted into electricity, and how the County implements strict water monitoring and control systems to protect the soil and groundwater. In short, children will learn how a landfill is operated.

During tours of the South Coast Recycling and Transfer Station, children will see the wide variety of materials that are collected for recycling and learn what happens to those materials.

Can We Save Money With A Recycling Program?
The Downey Unified School District in Los Angeles County saved over $200,000 by recycling and composting its waste over a period of four years. The majority of these savings were a result of reduced trips to the landfill, cutting the district’s annual trash bill of $100,000 in half. In just four years, since the inception of its program, Downey Unified School District reduced the amount of trash it sent to the landfill by 65 percent.