At school

Rethink Schools Program

Rethink Waste aims to improve our efforts at reducing, reusing and recycling in order to significantly decrease the amount of waste that ends up as landfill and to protect our environment.

Schools can play an important role in rethinking what we do with our waste by encouraging students to become instruments of change at school, at home and when they are out and about.

Rethink Waste can show you how your school can make a difference with a vast range of activities, information and resources available on this site.

Plus… The Northern Tasmanian Waste Management Group (NTWMG) and Cradle Coast Waste Management Group (CCWMG) have Recycling Education Officers who visit schools, residents, community groups and businesses to provide advice and education about recycling. The NTWMG Officers are able to travel to Launceston, West Tamar, Meander Valley, Northern Midlands, Break O’Day and George Town council areas. If you’d like to find out more or arrange a visit, please contact the t the Northern Tasmanian Waste Management Group.

The CCWMG Officer is able to travel to schools in the Circular Head, Waratah-Wynyard, Burnie, Central Coast, Devonport, Latrobe and Kentish council areas. To arrange a visit, complete this Expression of Interest Form and an Officer will be in touch:

In addition to the resources available via Rethink Waste Tasmania, there are also education programs and activities provided via the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Tasmania.  Visit the EPA Tasmania Waste Education website for more information.

Waste is a growing concern in our school communities and yet every year, we go on to produce even greater quantities of waste. It is a problem we all help to create, but with a little more thought, we can change our habits to reduce, reuse and recycle. We can all be part of the solution.

Schools are great places to start. As educators, schools have the ability to teach the entire school community, from students through to parents and staff, the right approach to waste and recycling, and the larger community will benefit.

Avoid creating waste:

  • Take your lunch in a reusable container
  • Get your coffee in a reusable cup or use a refillable water bottle
  • Get a refillable pen rather than getting a new pen each time one runs out
  • Consider having one day each week as a “packaging free lunch day”
  • Set your printer to default print on both sides

Reuse to reduce waste:

  • Reuse folders when projects have finished
  • Make notebooks from unwanted single-sided printed paper
  • Set your printer to default print on both sides
  • Place labels over used envelopes or use them as note paper
  • Hold a regular “School Swap” with your students, their families and local community to reuse toys, clothes, household bric-a-brac, books, etc.
  • Use empty food jars to store small items such as paper clips
  • Provide egg-cartons and other cardboard or paper packaging for art and craft activities


If you were to conduct a waste audit at your school and weigh all the rubbish created in one day, one week or one school term, you would be unpleasantly surprised at just how much waste there is. Conducting a waste audit is a great activity for students to get them thinking about what they can do to reduce waste at school and ties in nicely with the sustainability cross curriculum priority of the Australian Curriculum.

There is a hierarchy to waste management. Avoidance sits at the top and is the best way to reduce waste in the work place. Avoiding waste generation also saves energy, resources and over-manufacturing of commonly used goods.


Hazardous waste has the potential to harm you or our environment. In the school community, hazardous waste includes items such as oils, chemicals, old batteries, old computers and old mobile phones.

It is generally not permitted and it can also be dangerous to discard hazardous waste in your general school rubbish bins. Items that are not accepted in general council-provided rubbish collections include:

  • Agricultural chemicals and drums
  • Batteries (for example car, mobile phone or regular household batteries)
  • Cleaning and polishing chemicals
  • Motor oils (for example from cars or mowers)
  • Obsolete computer equipment, TVs (e-waste)
  • Out of date or unwanted pharmaceuticals (all medicines)
  • Pesticides and other garden chemicals
  • Petrol and kerosene
  • Solvent-based paints
  • Swimming pool or spa bath chemicals
  • Thermometers, barometers, thermostats, fluorescent tubes and compact fluorescent globes
  • Tyres

There are many ways of safely disposing of hazardous waste. This is what you can do:

  • Agricultural chemicals and drums – ChemClear accepts agricultural and veterinary chemicals for safe disposal and drumMUSTER accepts empty chemical drums for recycling.
  • Gas cylinders (LPG) – Including cylinders for BBQs, patio heaters, caravans, camping and lamps. Serviceable cylinders can be returned through swap programs provided by retailers for replacement or refilling.
  • Laser and printer inkjet cartridges – These can be taken to numerous retail outlets for recycling, including Australia Post, Harvey Norman and Officeworks outlets.
  • Mobile phones and phone batteries – Many council offices, mobile phone retailers and other retail stores will accept used mobile phones and accessories for recycling via the Mobile Muster recycling service.  Check out

Some councils offer recycling and disposal services for some hazardous waste items. Contact your local council to safely dispose of:

  • Car batteries
  • Computers and TVs (e-waste)
  • Fluorescent tubes and compact fluorescent globes
  • Gas cylinders
  • Household batteries (store safely, out of reach of children until ready to drop-off)
  • Paint
  • Used motor oils
  • Used cooking oil

If you are unsure if the materials you have to dispose of are hazardous, give theEPA Hotline a call on 1300 135 513.


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    Did you know that organic waste as landfill is harmful to the environment.  Due to the lack of oxygen (landfill cells are typically an anaerobic environment), organic waste in landfill will generate more methane when it breaks down, than when organic waste is broken down in composting. When methane is released into the atmosphere, it is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

    Composting organic waste at school is a wonderful way of using natural methods to reduce and reuse your school garden waste, paper waste and food scraps.  All the students can get involved and they’re likely to have fun being outdoors.

    All you need to get started is a sunny spot in the school grounds, either inside a container like a large wooden box or a plastic tumbler, or in a quiet corner out of the way.

    Great things to compost include:

    • Leaves and weeds
    • Straw, hay and other dried grasses
    • Prunings from the school’s garden
    • Shredded newspaper and other paper waste
    • Fruit and vegetable scraps
    • Tea and coffee grounds

    Great things you can do with compost:

    • Use compost on the school’s garden for weed control
    • Use compost on the school’s garden to control pests and avoid using herbicides
    • Use compost on the school’s garden to retain moisture

    Rethink Tip

    Set up a separate bin in the school canteen and staff room for fruit and vegetable, and make it a daily habit to toss them on the compost heap.

    If composting isn’t possible at your school, perhaps you could try setting up a worm farm to reuse the fruit and veggie scraps from the school’s canteen or contact your local council to find out if a food and green waste collection is offered in your area. If your council offers a green waste collection ask if it can take meat scraps, dairy, bones and garden waste. Councils across Tasmania are starting to introduce kerbside food and garden organics collection and composting services too (known as FOGO).


    Recycling saves landfill space, preserves natural resources and in many cases also saves energy and water.

    In Tasmania, almost everything collected through the kerbside recycling service goes interstate, and sometimes overseas, for reprocessing into new products. Unfortunately a portion of the recyclables collected in Tasmania is contaminated. Contaminated recyclables are rejected at the sorting facility and sent to landfill.

    Contamination occurs when you place items in your recycling bin that the recycling system cannot process, for example plastic bags or nappies. The fewer contaminants there are, the easier it is to sort your recyclables which saves time, energy, resources and money.

    Rethink Waste can help significantly reduce this problem and improve our recycling record and schools are a great place to start!

    In Tasmania, these items can be accepted for recycling in standard council-provided collections:

    • Clean paper and cardboard – includes office paper, cardboard boxes and packaging, egg cartons, telephone books, newspaper, pizza boxes (clean), magazines, pamphlets and paper bags
    • Glass bottles and jars (empty)
    • Metals – including aluminium cans, steel cans, tin-plated steel cans, aluminium foil, paint tins and aerosol cans (all empty)
    • Plastic containers and bottles (empty with lids off)

    In Tasmania these items are not accepted for recycling in standard council-provided collections:

    • Computers and TVs (e-waste)
    • Gas bottles
    • Hazardous recyclables such as batteries (car or domestic) or compact fluorescent lamps
    • Nappies
    • Paint
    • Plastic bags including plastic bread bags and plastic barrier bags
    • Polystyrene such as foam packaging
    • Sharps and syringes

    Did you know?

    You may have noticed that not all recyclable plastic containers display the PIC (Plastic Identification Code) triangle – the symbol most of us call the recycling triangle. This is because the triangle and corresponding number are used to indicate what plastic was used to make the container, not whether the container is recyclable. However, all plastic packaging containers can now be recycled as part of the normal kerbside recycling collection service offered by most Tasmanian councils. While soft plastic (including plastic bags and plastic film and wrap) are not accepted in any Tasmanian kerbside recycling collection, most major supermarkets now accept clean, flexible plastic, such as plastic bags, for recycling.

    For larger items or items of a different nature than described here, contact your local council to find out details of special collection services offered in your area.


      Did you know over 90% of the materials in mobile phones can be recycled and reused?

      It is important to keep mobile phones out of landfill to help the environment and conserve scarce natural resources.

      To help students learn about the importance of mobile phone recycling, MobileMuster has released free online learning resources which are easily accessible for all environmental educators, teachers and schools in Australia.

      Follow the link below to access these resources.