Free Recycling Collection Drive Guide and Other Tools
Everything you need to succeed!
Ready to host a school recycling collection drive? This guide covers everything you need to do to get started, plus provides all the tools you need. Scroll down for a printable copy of the guide, plus additional tools.
Why hold a recycling collection drive?
Recycle Rally Recycling Collective Drive Guide
Let’s get ready to recycle! Rally your students, staff and community and host a recycling collection drive to collect empty non-alcoholic aluminum cans and plastic bottles.
This guide will help you plan a fun and rewarding recycling drive that will help your school rack up Recycle Rally rewards points. It will also help make your entire school community more aware of the great impact that you can make by urging each other to recycle.
Why hold a recycling collection drive?
In order for your recycling drive to be a success, determine clear objective(s) for hosting it. Knowing exactly what you are trying to accomplish can help you to streamline the rest of the planning, simplify the recruiting of volunteers to help, and make for a more successful drive when it’s all said and done.
Here are some possible goals for a Recycle Rally Collection Drive. Review them and use the ones that would best apply at your school:
- Expand or increase awareness and involvement in recycling throughout your entire school.
- Extend your recycling program beyond your school to inform and involve parents and/or community members about the Recycle Rally program and how they can help.
- Develop students’ leadership skills by involving them in planning and hosting the collection drive.
- Create a friendly competition! See which group within your school can recycle the most during your drive or compete against a nearby school to see who can recycle more.
- Debut a new aspect of your recycling program—e.g., newly constructed or decorated recycling bins or signs.
- Work toward achieving a recycling goal or earning enough rewards points to redeem for something your school needs.
- If you share a goal, try to make sure it’s S.M.A.R.T.: Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, and Time-bound. This will help the students feel empowered to help achieve it!
- Don’t try to accomplish everything on the list above during one event. Make sure to keep your objective(s) simple enough that you can clearly and easily communicate to your students and other invitees.
- Consider what your biggest challenges and needs are in order to make your recycling drive a success.
- Consider including an aspect that will leave a lasting impression on the students that you can refer back to throughout the year to re-invigorate them to recycle all year long.
When should you hold your recycling collection drive?
There’s never really a bad time to host a recycling collection drive, but there are some particularly great occasions to associate with one, such as:
- Shortly after your school signs up for Recycle Rally to kick start your journey!
- America Recycles Day–November 15th
- Earth Month-April
- Beginning of the school year
- Beginning of a new semester
- Tied to a holiday such as Valentine’s Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, etc.
- Tied to the beginning of a new season or time of year, such as start of fall, winter or spring
- Field Days
- School open houses
- School carnivals
- Plays, choir performances, band concerts
- Opening day of a new sports season (especially those in which spectators and participants will be consuming lots of bottled beverages)
Tip: Create a theme for your event based on when you’re hosting it! If it’s around Halloween, throw a spooky collection drive. If it’s during a school carnival, decorate the recycling bins to look like a carnival game.
Where should you hold your recycling collection drive?
A gymnasium, cafeteria, designated classroom, or recycling center can be great spaces for a drive! If conditions allow, you may also want to consider directing people to drop off bottles and cans outdoors. Choose a spot along a designated wall or fence, or at an outdoor bin in your parking lot.
To make the most out of your drive, you can also consider coordinating with another event, such as a school sporting event, choir/band concert, or play. Ask attendees to bring recyclables to help your school and provide random prizes or raffle tickets to those who participate.
- If you are getting collections from “outsiders” other than students, faculty, and staff, do you need to designate an outdoor area in which they can safely drop off their recyclables without disturbing the school day?
- Do you have capacity in your current recycling bin/receptacle, or will you need to designate a different temporary storage area in an out-of-the-way location to store the extra bottles and cans until they can be cleared offsite?
- Will you need to reach out to your recycling hauler or service provider to make them aware that your volume will be increased so that they may plan for it and ensure it is moved to a recycling center in a timely manner?
- Is it possible and appropriate to add new signs to your chosen collection area(s) so they can be easily identified by anyone who wants to participate?
- Would any offsite locations be willing to serve as recycling drop-off locations in addition to your school? (e.g., local recycling center, other local businesses or facilities in which families often consume bottles and cans but don’t have great access to recycling bins, etc.)
Tip: Some schools even have student volunteers walk the parking lot or car line during designated times to enable people to drop off their bottles and cans without having to get out of their vehicle.
Who should be involved with the recycling collection drive?
First, consider reaching out to specific people to help with the drive:
- Recycle Rally Leader(s)
- Recycle Rally Supporter(s): Other faculty, staff, and parents who will be helping out with encouraging and handling recycling
- Sponsor(s): Administrators who will help reinforce your recycling agenda
- Green Team Members/Student Leaders: Students who will be directly involved in handling, tracking, and/or promoting the recycling drive within your school
Then, assign their roles:
- Assistants to help with planning the recycling drive
- Promote the drive and build excitement via signage and word-of-mouth
- Boost interest and excitement digitally via multimedia
- Take photos or videos during the drive
- Recyclable collectors
- Recyclable handlers to help tally up your totals
Next, decide who you’ll invite to participate in the drive:
- Staff and students at your school
- Parents and family members of the students at your school
- School board members
- Local businesses who might be able to share information about the drive with their customers
- Local businesses who might be willing to collect recyclables at their location
and donate them towards the end of the drive
- Representatives from your city or county sanitation, waste services, or environmental services roles to spread the word
- City officials
Tip: Challenge all classrooms to participate in the drive. If they do, consider offering a reward such as a party or movie!
How will you promote and run your drive?
There are two keys to success related to hosting a successful recycling collection drive: promoting the drive to maximize participation and following up with those who participated.
Promoting the Event
- Print and hang details around the school and at local businesses
- Print and hang an event banner
- Post information about the drive on your school’s social media channels
- Make an announcement over the P.A. / intercom about your school’s upcoming drive
- Include information about the drive in a school newspaper or newsletter
- If applicable, inform local media about your drive by sending a short pitch or posting on an events calendar to encourage community participation
Following Up After the Event
- Communicate your progress and celebrate your success if you achieved your goal
- Communicate the next goal you hope to reach and a call to action to keep recycling
- Ask those who were inspired to join your team and become Rally Supporters or Green Team members and delegate some simple duties to get them involved right away
- Post about the drive on your school’s social media channels (if applicable)
- Send photos from your drive to your school newsletter publisher, yearbook, other local media, PTO / PTA groups, and summarize why you held the event
- Interview people who were involved to capture lessons learned so that you can ensure next time runs even more smoothly
What will you need to make your drive a success?
Take a look at this list to see if you’ll need any of them to help with your drive.
- Additional recycling bins or collection receptacles
- Signs indicating where the recycling drive is being held
- Signs indicating where to place certain recyclables
- Props to call visible attention to your drive, e.g., balloons, costumes, murals, etc.
- Tools to audibly communicate or call attention to your drive, e.g., megaphone, P.A. system, horns, whistles, etc.
- Other visual aids, e.g., bottle-shaped “thermometer” poster to illustrate your progress toward your goal
- Materials needed for safe and easy collection, like gloves, drop-cloths, tables, or collection bins
Tip: Offer a simple group prize like a homemade trophy or a specially decorated recycling bin to the classroom or department that collects the most recyclables during the drive.
Additional Recycling Collection Drive Resources
Scroll down for additional resources, including:
- Recycling Event Invitation (Color It In)
- Recycling Event Invitation (Full Color)
- Collection Drive Invitation
- Collection Drive Banner
- Event Invitation Email to Staff
- Event Invitation Email to Parents
Tips For Engaging Local Media
In addition to invitations and email blasts to staff, students, parents and community members, it’s always a good idea to let the community know about the recycling drive by placing an event listing in your local newspapers, newsletters or bulletins.
Along with basic information about the drive, you can also include a photo of students recycling or your school logo. Use these guidelines to help you create an event listing, and make sure to include this important information:
- The host of the drive
- The date and time of the drive
- Where the drive is being held
- What kind of recyclables attendees should bring
- Any special activities you’ll be holding during the drive
Engage With Your Audience
Target the reporter and build a relationship
Who do you get your community news from? Look at stories about recycling, schools and your community, and see who is covering these topics. Find contact information through media outlets’ websites or social media channels.
Keep emails succinct
Reporters receive a lot of emails each day, so keep your email straight-forward and to the point. Email subject lines are important to get the reporters’ attention right away and entice them to open.
Persistence is key
If you send an email to a reporter and haven’t heard back, feel free to politely follow up with them in the next 24-48 hours. Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to pick up the phone if it’s a timely story. When a reporter gets back to you, be prepared to share more information, details and image or video assets if requested.
Expectations and coverage
Members of the media are busy keeping up with the news cycle. Just because you do not hear back right away does not mean they’re not interested in future opportunities. If media are interested in reporting on your story, ask about the expected air or run date, and keep a lookout for the story! If you do secure media coverage, or have any questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are a few communication guidelines to keep in mind when talking about PepsiCo Recycling and Recycle Rally externally.
- Say “PepsiCo,” NOT “Pepsi”
- Say “Recycle Rally,” NOT “Recycling Rally”
- Mention Recycle Rally in ways that are authentic and natural based on your experience with the program
- If you share photos, please remove labels from packaging or turn the product in photos to not highlight brand names.
- Mentioning ANY product brand names (Company name, “PepsiCo” is okay, but please do not refer to the brand name “Pepsi”)
- Shaming those who do not recycle (say instead, “It’s never too late to start recycling”)
Recycling Collection Drive Guide
Recycling Event Invitation - Color It In
Save and print these school recycling event invitations and distribute them to students and families to invite them to participate.
Recycling Event Invitation - Full Color
Collection Drive Invitation
Collection Drive Banner
Print these pages and tape them together to create a large recycling collection drive banner for your school.
Collecton Drive Email to Staff
Use this free email template to invite staff to participate in your school's recycling collection drive. Just cut, paste, and send!
Collection Drive Email to Parents
Use this free email template to invite community members to participate in your school's recycling collection drive. Just cut, paste, and send!
Tips for Engaging Local Media
Curious about getting media coverage for your school recycling program? Check out these tips from Recycle Rally.