Use Signage to Improve School Waste Diversion Programs 

Proper signage is an important part of any waste reduction program! By clearly labeling all recycling, food scraps, and trash containers, you can help reduce contamination and increase participation in your programs. Signs should be placed at eye level, whatever height that may be for your students. If you have mobile waste stations, tape signage to the lid or side of the bin.

THE GREEN TEAM has created easy-to-download signage that can be used for a variety of waste programs, including recycling, composting, share tables, and more! The signs were developed using guidance from Recycle Smart MA and our experience working with schools across the state. Signs are available in English, Spanish, and Portuguese with more languages coming soon! Contact THE GREEN TEAM at to request additional translations for your school. A full list of signage templates can be found at the bottom of this page.

Click each image below to enlarge.


Creating DIY signage is another way to engage students while they learn about recycling, composting, and other environmental topics. If you or your students choose to design your own signage, here are some important tips to consider:

  • Use images of the specific materials found at your school when possible, rather than generic icons or clip art. This is especially helpful for younger students who are looking to match what they have in their hand to what is on the sign.
  • Avoid placing too much text on the sign. It may seem best to list every possible item that should go in the recycling bin, but it can be overwhelming for students and staff reading through the sign.
  • Keep it clean and crisp! Intricate backgrounds and patterns might distract users from finding what they need.
  • When creating signs, ensure that you are collecting the correct materials for recycling and composting. Check out the Recycle Smart MA Recyclopedia and confirm with your hauler before finalizing signage.

See how other schools have created their own waste bin signage:

Atkinson Elementary School, North Andover

Thomson Elementary School, North Andover

 Miller-Driscoll Elementary School, Wilton, CT 

Middlebrook Middle School, Wilton, CT




Modifications to these signs, such as adding a logo or additional image, can be done with certain Adobe PDF programs. THE GREEN TEAM is happy to provide additional assistance to registered schools, including signage modification and translation, as well as technical and visual reviews of original signs. Click here to register for THE GREEN TEAM and contact us at with any questions about your school’s recycling or food waste diversion programs!