The Sustainability Goal for 2018-2019 is to Recycle 65% of the total waste stream. OCPS reached a 54% recycling rate this year, a 7% reduction over the previous year.

students with recycling bin

Recycling Audit Program

The Recycling Audit Program is designed to ensure all schools and facilities are recycling correctly. Recycling Audits determine the needs at these locations then provide resources and support to assist staff and students to improve recycling efforts.

Each quarter, twenty (20) locations are audited three times by the Sustainability Specialist.  In the first month of the quarter an initial audit is conducted; the second month is a follow-up audit; and in the third month, the final audit. The audits are a progressive inspection to obtain baseline data, offer solutions, then identify if changes are implemented.  

The Audits include visual observations of the recycling and solid waste dumpsters to determine if acceptable program materials are being separated into the correct dumpster.  Classrooms, offices and common areas are then looked at to see if recycling education signage and recycling bins are present. 

Recycling bins and trash cans are inspected to see if recyclable items are in the trash can and vice versa.  Recycling participation in classrooms, administrative areas, kitchens and custodial areas are noted on the Audit to pinpoint who needs recycling training and further assistance. 

Each quarter’s Audit outcomes identify the top recycler in each Learning District. The schools with the greatest percentage improvement from their Initial to their Final Audit are then rewarded with the Recycling Rebate.  


staff with recycling bins


Recycling Rebate Program

The Recycling Rebate Program is funded by the revenue received from the sale of recyclables collected from the OCPS school and facility single-stream recycling program. Since the Rebate Program’s inception in 2016, schools have been awarded over $120,000 for their recycling efforts. In 2018-19, over $33,000 was awarded to eighteen schools throughout the District. 

students holding a big check


Waste Reduction

A top priority to help achieve cost savings to the District is through waste reduction strategies. In 2018-2019, the Sustainability Office engaged in a deep dive into solid waste and recycling service levels and utility bills to identify areas where savings could be realized by right-sizing services based upon school enrollment and number of daily meals served.  This analysis resulted in saving the District over $460,000 despite waste hauler rate increases.   

The USDA estimates that cafeteria food waste accounts for up to 30% of the waste stream at schools. To benchmark and capture the food being landfilled from our cafeterias, Blankner K8 and Audubon K8 Schools accepted the challenge to implement comprehensive food rescue programs.  These programs collected food scraps from the kitchen and dining areas through a joint program with the City of Orlando. 

The City provided the collection containers, marketing materials and transportation of the food waste to a facility which uses the scraps as an alternative energy source to create electricity. In addition, the schools also made a concerted effort to collect all unopened, uneaten food to offer to other students and local non-profits. Through these actions, the two schools kept 60,000 pounds of food out of the landfill. 

Forty-eight (48) other schools in the District reported the use of Share or Donation Tables in their cafeterias for students to donate their unwanted food to other students or non-profits which not only reduces the amount of waste being landfilled and the costs for solid waste collection and disposal, but positively impacts the community by providing food to the hunger insecure in Orange County. It is estimated that approximately 50 pounds of food is captured daily through these programs totaling over 400,000 pounds rescued in 2018-2019.

adults in front of garbage cans
share table


Through a partnership with Charity Recycling Services, 46 schools helped donate unwanted clothing to raise funds for school activities.  In total, these schools earned approximately $11,500 and diverted over 114,862 pounds of clothing from the landfill. 

Surplus Warehouse Operations contributes to sustainability efforts through the reuse District materials such as old furniture and classrooms items. This past fiscal year, over 51% of all items received were either sold at auction, public sales or reused in other schools. These efforts not only divert materials from the landfill but also contributed over $1 million to the District’s general fund. 

clothing recycling bin