Waste Management in Schools

Inappropriate solid waste management practices in schools in Zimbabwe, both in rural and urban communities constitute one of the major factors leading to declining environmental health standards. In line with the common creed “catch them young”, schools have become an important focal point of environmental information dissemination to foster environmental stewardship. Schools accumulate tonnes of waste from paper and computers to food and books. Sharing knowledge on proper waste management in schools will influence positive change within schools leading to healthy environments. It is a prerequisite that each school should have a waste management plan that speaks about the type and amount of waste generated and the disposal methods it can adopt.

Common Types of Waste Generated in Schools

·         Paper

·         Plastics

·         Cans

·         Food Waste [Meal and fruits left-overs by students]

·         Electronic waste from school Administration

·         Grass cuttings from school grounds

·         Aluminum foil

·         Others [Stationery items, pencil sharpeners etc.]

·         Air time (juice cards).

·         Diapers from staff residence.

Waste Prevention Efforts Which Can Be Adopted in Schools.

Schools which are interested in undertaking waste prevention activities can do so by reducing or eliminating material from entering the waste stream. They are encouraged to reduce waste at the source because this prevents the generation of waste in the first place, so it is a preferred method of waste management and goes a long way towards protecting the environment. The following are waste prevention efforts which can be adopted in schools:


Reduce and use less paper by copying and printing on both sides of the paper and giving assignments that do not need to be written.


Read news online instead of hard copy.

Furniture, Books, Computers, Office supplies, Surplus food, Containers and Bicycles

Donate collected material to a specific beneficiary, such as a library, shelter or charitable organisation near your school.

Plastic, Glass, Cardboard and Paper

Host a collection event during which local recycling centres such as Proplastics and Hunyani Board and Paper mills collect the material and transport them back to the centre for processing.


Reduce the amount of food leftovers that is thrown away by taking only as much food as you can consume. Compost food scraps to use as a soil amendment on school grounds and gardens.

What Litter Reduction Activities do Schools embark on?

·         Awareness activities: Organize a litter awareness week for the school. Assign students to make posters, write poems, newspaper articles

·         Clean Up Campaigns. Adopt areas near your school for clean up to enhance the relationship between school and the community

·         Commemoration of environmental days such as Africa Environment Day and Earth Day

·         Come up with an environmental calendar of events

·         Make artefacts from waste [Making handbags from bottle tops and plastic containers and bins from empty soft drinks cans promoting the theme “ Converting trash to cash”]

·         Environmental clubs on waste management

·         Environmental competitions

·         Environmental talk shows

·         Environmental projects on waste management

·         Litter Clean Up Day: Schedule a school litter clean-up day at the beginning of your “litter awareness week”.

·         Give prizes for the tidiest and waste management conscious class.

·         Environmental Debates on anti-littering


You can compost a large amount of your food and garden waste at school. The product can then be used around the garden to ‘feed’ other plants. All compost needs is a mixture of greens, browns, air and water to make good compost full of nutrients. For better quality manure, earthworms which speed up decomposition can be introduced into the compost. The earthworms can then be used for vermiculture.

What are Greens?

Greens are quick to rot and provide important nitrogen and moisture. Greens include: vegetable peelings, fruit waste, tea bags, plant prunings and grass cuttings.

What are Browns?

Browns are slower to rot; they provide fibre, carbon and also allow important air pockets to form in the mixture. Browns include: cardboard, egg boxes, scrunched up paper, twigs and fallen leaves. Crushed egg shells can also be included to provide useful minerals.

What to avoid

Certain things should never be placed in your compost bin these include: cooked vegetables, meat, bones, dairy products, fat, oils, diseased plants and definitely no pet droppings or babies nappies. Putting these on your compost heap can encourage unwanted pests and can also create bad odours. A layer of soil or compost from your garden can be added to layers of greens and browns to introduce micro-organisms. The micro-organisms will set to work breaking down the material and in time you will see extra bugs in there such as: woodlice, earth worms and millipedes all helping break the material down into compost.


Where should you place your compost heap?

Your compost heap should be on a level well drained spot. This allows excess water to drain out and makes it easier for helpful creatures such as worms to get in and get working on breaking down the contents. Placing your compost heap in a partially sunny spot can help speed up the composting process.

Making good compost

The key to good compost lies in getting the mix right. You need to keep your greens and browns properly balanced. If your compost is too wet, add more browns. If it’s too dry, add some greens. Making sure there is enough air in the mixture is also important. Adding scrunched up bits of cardboard is a simple way to create air pockets that will help keep your compost healthy. After approximately 6-9 months your compost will be ready.

Using your compost

 Finished compost is a dark brown, almost black, soil like layer that you will find in the bottom of your bin. It has a spongy texture and is rich in nutrients. Spreading the finished compost into your flower beds greatly improves soil quality by helping it retain moisture and suppressing weeds. Composting is the easiest way to make your garden grow more beautiful.

What does the law say on Litter?

There are several pieces of legislation in place pertaining to litter and waste management.

Section 70 of EMA Act CAP 20:27

·         No person shall discharge or dispose of any waste in a manner that causes environmental pollution or ill health to any person.

·         Any person whose activities generate waste shall employ measures essential to minimize the waste through treatment, reclamation and recycling.

Section 83 of EMA Act CAP 20:27

·         No person shall discard, dump or leave any litter on any place, other than in a container provided for that purpose or at a place especially designated for that purpose

·         Every person in control of or responsible for the maintenance of any place shall at all times ensure that containers or places are provided which will be adequate and suitable for the discarding of litter.

Statutory Instrument 98 Environmental Management (Plastic packing and plastic bottles) Regulations, of 2010 states the prohibition of certain plastics.

3.(1) The manufacture for use within Zimbabwe, commercial distribution or importation of plastic packaging with a wall thickness of less than thirty micrometres is prohibited, unless it can be provided that they are-

a)      Plastic bread packaging and clingy film used as plastic barrier packaging of a wall thickness of between twenty-five micrometres and thirty micrometres; or

b)      Biodegradable plastic packaging.

Any plastic product found to be in contravention of sections 3 (1) shall be recalled from the system.




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