Rhodes School District 84.5

Rhodes Recycling Project

Rhodes began its recycling program in 1990. During this time many products have been added to our list. This project is designed for those schools that are beginning a program and need more information.


Paper recycling program is the most popular program in the country. Paper itself falls into several categories. Here is a list of some of them:


White paper is just that. Letterhead, copy machine paper, memos, etc. The paper is white on both sides and has never been recycled before. This kind of paper is probably most common at your site. Every recycler will take white paper.


Colored paper is exactly the same kind of paper as white, except for the color. Almost every color has been used, but the primary colors are most common. VERY IMPORTANT - Colored paper is not construction paper. This is an important distinction. While several years ago colored paper was hard to recycle, today most places take this kind of paper.


Mixed paper is all of that paper that is not white or color quality. Some of these include: Magazines, newspapers, junk mail (both with and without the plastic windows), phone books, CONSTRUCTION PAPER, and most other paper based products. The reason for mentioning construction paper was due to a problem we had a couple of years ago. Not every waste hauler will accept all of these kinds of paper. Make sure you make a complete list of the paper used in your building and verify that the recycler you choose will accept them.


These are those weird ones that no one thinks of. Some of the ones we have dealt with are: unused Kleenex, unused paper towels, old books, labels, paper plates, etc. Only after starting a program will you see all of the possible products.


In our building we use several plastic containers. Most of these containers come from our lunch program, so a detailed description can be found there. A list of the most common recycled plastics is listed below:

#1 PETE (2 liter bottles, some juice containers, etc.)
#2 HDPE (milk containers, juice containers, most laundry soap bottles)
#4 LDPE (plastic bags from Jewel, Wal-Mart, Target, etc)

The numbers listed are usually found on the bottom of the bottles. Numbers 3,5,6,7 are used, but at this time, very few recyclers are using these materials.

Another important tip with plastic recycling is to keep these containers as clean as possible. Otherwise, the containers will begin to smell and attract bugs.

Milk Cartons

As with plastic containers, a more detailed list of this program is in our lunch program. However, even if you don't have a lunch program, you probably have milk and juice for the primary grades. Even though the volume is not as great as a lunch program, it is still worthwhile to recycle these containers. The pulp in these cartoons is high quality and most recyclers will work with you.

Glass/Aluminum Containers

As with the plastic and milk containers, our majority of these containers come from our lunch program. Please refer to these for more information. However, these containers are very easy to recycle and many even be used for fund-raising activities.


While cardboard is very close to paper, several points need to be made. First, make sure you break down the boxes. Many times our boxes were left since they were not flat. Second, watch out for staples in these boxes. Try to remove them before placing them ready to be picked up. Third, try to train your custodians to place the boxes in a central location. This will make your program run much smoother since then you will not be responsible for all the boxes coming into the building. Finally, not every box is easy to recycle. Choices need to be made for both space and time constraints. Do the best you can.

Lunchroom Program

Our lunch program is designed to be very simple. Separate 50 gallon bins are used for aluminum cans, milk cartons (including straws) and plastic containers. Students and staff just have to place the right container into each bin. The biggest problem is to ensure that the liquid is drained from each container. While we have a bucket for this purpose, some liquid remains so it very important to have an outside storage place that the materials will be taken to each day.

Recycling Site Links

Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity

Illinois Recycling Association

Environmental Defense Fund

America Recycles Day