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ICSD Compositing and Recycling Guidelines

The Ithaca City School District is committed to composting and recycling in order to reduce costs and contribute to a sustainable future for our children and community. We need and appreciate everyone’s support and involvement in this effort. Below are the important steps in establishing and maintaining effective composting and recycling in every school. Thank you for your participation in this district-wide practice!

Sorting Stations

Setting Up the Sorting Stations
Items to Include
  • Grey or black can for trash/landfill
  • Liquid dumping station near the recycling can
  • Blue can for recycling
  • First green can for composting food scraps
  • Second green can for composting trays

Post visible signs that inform and direct users. Keep it simple, use few words, include pictures, and hang at eye level. Please include the signage provided by the school district Facilities Department, along with any signs the school may create.

Monitoring the Sorting Stations
Arrange for staff members to monitor the sorting station at every meal time (breakfast and lunch).
Guidelines for Sorting Station Monitors
  • Stand close to the sorting station to guide students.
  • Foster positive interactions that will encourage independence and compliance.
  • Acknowledge students and staff for their participation and show appreciation.
  • Once students learn the procedures, continue to affirm their participation and offer support to fine-tune their efforts.
  • Adjust your monitoring practices to reduce contamination to zero.
  • Share observations, needs, and concerns with other monitors and your principal.     

Education and Orientation

To support the district’s waste reduction efforts and to complement the efforts of the custodial staff, please provide orientation and ongoing education for staff and students.

Start of the School Year
On the first day of school, orient the students to recycling and composting procedures. This can be done in a variety of settings such as an assembly, morning meeting, or meal time. 
Include recycling and composting information and procedures on the agenda of a staff meeting before students return.
Yearlong Support
  • Identify a school representative to participate in the district Green Team.
  • Include composting and recycling information in school publications.
  • Present information at a PTA meeting.
  • Exchange information with the board member liaison for your school.
  • Establish or strengthen a school Green Team.
  • Reinforce procedures and provide information during school assemblies and staff meetings.
  • Encourage the integration of sustainability ideas into the curriculum.
  • Seek feedback from custodians and staff on the levels of contamination and other issues.

Current Sorting Guidelines

Your waste stations should include ICSD District signage indicating which materials to recycle, compost, or place into the trash. You may want to include additional imagery or information deemed helpful. Below is a more detailed set of guidelines. Our goal is to involve all members of each school community in fostering a more sustainable future by minimizing waste.

For questions, please contact your school principal or Green Team representative, or e-mail
What is compostable?
First Compost Bin
  • Food scraps
  • Paper towels
  • Napkins
  • Popsicle sticks
First Compost Bin
  • Food trays (unstacked)
compostable school lunch
What is recyclable?
The ICSD is participating in single streaming recycling. Each school may collect the items below as single stream or separately (all items will be combined at the Recycling & Materials Management
PLASTICS: only #s 1, 2, and 5 containers will be accepted.
  • Empty beverage containers
    Beverage bottles and cans; juice boxes and cartons; milk cartons; plastic cups
  • Food containers
    Empty cereal and yogurt containers
  • Aluminum foil
    (mostly clean)
  • Paper
  • Cardboard
    (collect seperately)
What goes into the trash?
  • Platics
    Plastic bags, film, straws, wrappers; #s 3, 4, 6, 7 or unmarked plastic; plasticware
  • Styrofoam
  • Snack wrappers
    Chip bags; food bar wrappers
  • Mixed materials
    Foil combined with paper; juice pouches; paper combined with plastic