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Under the DC Healthy Schools Act of 2010, DGS is responsible for a variety of activities designed to ensure that schools are healthy, safe places to learn. These include programs on recycling and composting, energy reduction, drinking water testing, indoor air quality, and integrated pest management.

For more information, please contact Beth Gingold, Schools Conservation Coordinator, Department of General Services - Sustainability and Energy Division.


4/25/2016 – Celebrate the DCPS Recycles Honor Roll 2016!
During this last week of Earth Month, please join us in celebrating the 47 schools that have made the DCPS Recycles! Honor Roll 2016 through consistent, school-wide participation in recycling throughout the school year!
 Here are actions you can take as follow up to Earth Day 2016:

  • Celebrate! Read the press release for the complete list of DCPS Recycles! Honor Roll 2016 schools! Also, read our blog to learn from Van Ness Elementary School’s exemplary recycling efforts.
  • Reinvigorate! If your school didn’t make it on the list, there is still time! Schools that are still working on rolling out their recycling programs have until May 30th to fill out the DCPS Recycles Honor Roll 2016 Application.
  • Initiate! If your school does not have an active recycling program, this is the time to start thinking about next year. Look out for an announcement next week about designating recycling contacts, signing up for organics recycling, and ordering supplies.
  • Educate! There are a lot of environmental education opportunities and programs out there. One such program is the EcoRise Youth Innovation’s grant opportunity for standards-aligned sustainability projects (deadline: May 16th). See more below.
  • Get Recognition! Schools all across the district celebrated Earth Day last week with a range of activities including field trips, litter clean-ups, fairs, and build days. A special shout-out goes to the following schools for holding Earth Month events: Janney ES, Ketcham ES, Lafayette ES, McKinley Tech HS, Noyes ES, Powell ES, Randle Highlands ES, School Without Walls @ Francis-Stevens, Seaton ES, Tyler ES, and Woodrow Wilson HS. If you haven’t already, let us know about your school’s Earth Day or Earth Month event.

3/21/2016 - DCPS Recycles! Earth Month Prep - Things to Look Forward to in April!
Attention DCPS Recyclers! Here are 3 things you can do in April to celebrate Earth Month:
1)   Get recognized for your school’s Earth Month event – and walk the talk by recycling at your event : Is your school hosting an event around Earth Day (April 22)? Fill out this form to get recognized by registering your Earth Month event with us. If we know about your event we can highlight your school in future success stories! To learn how to manage your waste at your event, check out our new resource, Best Practices Guide for Recycling at Events in DCPS Buildings.
2)   Collect waste data at your event and share it with the DCPS Recycles! team : After managing your event’s waste, share your data with DCPS Recycles! so that we can celebrate and learn from your success. Complete the DCPS Recycles! Waste Datasheet with the estimated volume (in gallons) and weight (in lbs, this is optional but recommended if you have access to a scale) of the different waste streams from your event.
3)   Register to be part of the 28th Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup : The Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup gathers people from all over the region to clean up litter from the Potomac watershed. In 2015, nearly 24,000 volunteers collected over 1.2 pounds of litter. Register your school as a clean-up site.

We look forward to a wonderful Earth Month!

2/10/2016 - The DC Reduce First Challenge – Lunch Edition
Did you know that 20 to 30 percent of waste from a typical DCPS school cafeteria is actually whole uneaten and unopened items?  The DCPS Recycles! program is excited to launch the D.C. Reduce First Challenge - Lunch Edition, the first-ever collaborative effort to reduce food waste (not just compost it) from school lunches in DC. During the challenge, schools will conduct simple surveys to count whole uneaten and unopened food items per student lunch, and then take actions to reduce wasted items. A total of 24 schools – both DCPS and public charter – have signed up to participate in the Challenge. The Challenge will run from Tuesday, February 16, 2016 to Friday, March 11, 2016.

Sign up by February 16th. Read the packet of instructions that tells you everything you need to know to participate. If you cannot participate in the Challenge in February and March, you can conduct the Challenge activity at any time during the school year.
Read the Challenge Instructions and Resources

1/11/2016 – DCPS Recycles! Program Newsletter – January 2016
Happy new year! Congratulations to DCPS for all its recycling progress in 2015! Here are some actions you can take in the new year:

  • Sign up to reduce food waste! Sign up for the D.C. Reduce First Challenge – Lunch Edition – taking place next month, February 2016, to reduce food waste in DCPS cafeterias. Read more about the competition and sign up by Friday, January 22!
  • Give feedback! Fill out this feedback form by Friday, January 22 to help improve the DCPS Recycles! program.
  • Apply for recognition! Fill out the DCPS Recycles Honor Roll 2016 Application by Friday, February 19 to get your school recognized on Earth Day.
  • Check services! Check the updated list of schools participating in organics recycling. Read an update on the organics recycling program.
  • Look out for supplies! Schools that ordered supplies in November 2015 should expect supplies by February 2016.
  • Request a school walkthrough! For those schools that did not submit the supply order form in November, request a school walkthrough to identify exactly what recycling supplies you need—email cara.blumenthal@dc.gov.
  • Share photos! Share photos on social media that celebrate recycling in your school - #DCPSRecycles @DCDGS. You can also send us your pictures to share on our new Flickr page.

Read the FULL program newsletter for more program updates, replicable school recycling success stories, new resources, and recycling news.
Questions? Contact Beth Gingold at beth.gingold@dc.gov.

11/10/2015 – DCPS Maintenance Staff Visits Composting Facility

On October 27, DCPS maintenance employees and the DCPS Recycles! team toured the Western Branch Composting Facility in Upper Marlboro, MD, where DCPS sends its organic waste. It was an opportunity for maintenance employees to see where DCPS organic waste is composted and learn about the composting process. As a result of the tour, the maintenance employees who attended are better equipped to be leaders in their schools by advocating for why organics recycling is important in DCPS schools. Check out pictures from the tour!

If you would like to set up a tour of the composting facility for students, contact Steven Birchfield of Maryland Environmental Services at SBIRC@menv.com. Tours are free and typically last about an hour.

Are you interested in compost for your school garden? D.C. Public Schools get a discounted price for LeafGro™ compost. The minimum volume of compost available for pickup is 5 cubic yards. Contact Cara Blumenthal at cara.blumenthal@dc.gov to find out how to get your reduced price compost!

11/3/2015 – DGS Congratulates the 2015 D.C. “Recycle Right!” Competition Participants and Winners

The Department of General Services (DGS) congratulates the 21 schools that participated in the D.C. Recycle Right! Competition, part of OSSE’s Growing Healthy Schools Month October celebration. The goal of the competition was to reward participants for “recycling right,” not recycling more, which is more in line with the Sustainable DC goal of zero waste by 2032. If you did not get a chance to participate in the competition, your school can participate in the bin survey activity at any time of the year to encourage and improve classroom recycling. You can find instructions on the Conduct a Waste Study page.  Read more about the competition.

Check out pictures from the competition and awards ceremony!

8/17/2015 - DCPS Recycles! Back to School Actions

Welcome back! Here are the first steps school staff can take to get started right on recycling this year:

For assistance, please contact Beth Gingold, beth.gingold@dc.gov.

About DCPS Recycles!

The DCPS Recycles! program is designed to fulfill legal requirements; improve building operations; reduce waste of money and natural resources; achieve the SustainableDC target of zero waste by 2032; and teach DCPS students values and skills for a sustainable 21st century.  The goal is to sort all waste properly so as much as possible can be composted or recycled instead of sent to a landfill or incinerator!

All DCPS schools are expected to sort paper recyclables, mixed recyclables, non-recyclable trash, and – in these 70 schools this yearorganics. 

To achieve this,

  • Everyone is expected to participate! All staff and students are to sort waste into bins according to labels and instructions provided.
  • Teachers are responsible for ensuring blue classroom bins are used for PAPER ONLY.
  • Custodial staff is responsible for collection. Custodial staff is NOT responsible for sorting – if one person puts trash in a recycling bin everything in it becomes trash.
  • Anyone can advocate! Ask your principal who is the administrator who has been delegated using this form as responsible for your program.

Classrooms and offices should each have a bin for collecting PAPER ONLY and common areas may have bins for sorting mixed recyclables or paper recyclables. In schools recycling organics, the cafeteria will have bins for sorting organics, mixed recyclables and trash.

DGS provides pick up services, standardized supplies, and on-site support. Please contact Beth.Gingold@dc.gov for assistance with your school’s program.

Recycling Resources

Energy Resources


Past Announcements