School Sustainability Working Group

Newton Public Schools have installed a School Sustainability Working Group (SSWG), which seeks to promote and increase sustainable practices within the Newton Public Schools. Partnering with Green Newton School Connections, the SSWG will work in the areas of transportation, energy, recycling, and food services.

Sustainability is a part of the Newton Public Schools Systemwide Goals for 2020, along with specific goals to improve transportation in the district. The FY20 Systemwide Goals include “Initiate Development of School Sustainability Working Group,” as well as a managerial goal to improve transportation.

SSWG includes representation from NPS administration, facilities, educators, school committee members, Whitsons (food service partner), City of Newton Department of Public Works, Department of Sustainability and Department of Transportation.

City and school district officials work in partnership with Green Newton and with other local nonprofits. Green Newton School Connections initiative provides an opportunity for families to collaborate with the district in bringing sustainable practices and environmental education directly into the Newton Public Schools.

So far, SSWG has worked on:

The groups goals for 2020 are:

  • Promote recycling efforts at individual Newton schools
  • Identify feasible methods for reduce single-use plastics, especially at school cafeterias
  • Coordinate with Food Service Advisory Group (FSAG) on actionable waste reduction goals
  • Promote more active and sustainable transportation to school
  • Support sustainable use and sourcing of energy, including solar panels

More at NPS > Families > Buildings & Operations > Sustainability

For a full, detailed description of the School Sustainability Working Group, please download this document: SSWG Purpose, Structure, Objectives, and Timeline.



The purpose of the School Sustainability Working Group (SSWG) is to promote and increase sustainable practices within the Newton Public Schools (NPS) with an initial emphasis on improving waste diversion efforts.

  • The SSWG will serve as a leadership team for on the development of sustainability objectives and goals
  • The SSWG will serve as a forum for ongoing feedback among stakeholders across the City of Newton
  • The SSWG will implement actions that support natural resource  conservation including, waste reduction, reuse, and recycling, as well as energy use reduction
  • The SSWG will provide implementation oversight of the School Committee Policy File: DJAA – RECYCLING, New: May 13, 2019


The membership goal of SSWG is to include representation from: Newton Public School administration staff, Newton Public Schools facilities staff, one Newton Public School educator, one School Committee member, one staff member of the Food Service Management Company, , the City DPW,  one Co-Director of Sustainability with the City of Newton, representatives from Green Newton and from time to time a Newton Public School student representative.

SSWG will meet monthly on the to share feedback, share positive work, identify concerns, and suggest adjustments.

To improve transparency and engagement from the NPS community, a webpage will be formed on the NPS website to communicate the sustainability goals in NPS as well as hosting pertinent NPS sustainability documents including the NPS Recycling Policy.


The first SSWG meeting was held on June 10, 2019.  Following June, a monthly meeting timeline will be established to ensure a regular feedback cycle.


June 2019

  • Help initiate the MassDEP School Recycling Assistance Grant application with the City (application due June 12, 2019)
  • Review goals and objectives of SSWG and plan communication of the formation of SSWG to School Committee and Newton community
  • Discuss implementation plan for a school textile collection program

First year (FY20)

  • Promote recycling efforts, such as:
    • Installing recycling signage in recommended school locations, including signage on waste collection barrels used by custodians
    • Installing Textile Recycling Receptacles at schools sites
  • Identify feasible methods to reduce single-use plastics. Examples include:
    • Reduce single use plastic in food service (eliminate plastic straws)
    • Promote the use of reusable water bottles (install water bottle  filling stations in appropriate school locations)
  • Coordinate with the Food Service Advisory Group on actionable waste reduction goals with food service vendor, such as:
    • Divert food waste from cafeterias by expanding food waste collection service with a private hauler
    • Reduce wasted food by implementing a food rescue program
  • Promote more active and sustainable transportation to school:
    • Upgrade bike racks at specified schools
    • Install bike canopies at high schools
  • Support sustainable use and sourcing of energy, such as:
    • Completion of Phase 3 solar projects with the City 
    • Monitor utility savings
    • Advocate for designated EV (electric vehicle) charging stations

Second Year (FY21-22) and Beyond Goals

  • Formation of Green Teams at all schools that would report to designated Green Team Champion
  • Partner with district personnel for support in recycling efforts, including: custodians, school staff and educators in their different roles
  • TBD based on funding awarded by Recycling Assistance Grant Program
  • Improve implementation of classroom education on sustainability efforts broadly and locally
    • Align classroom projects to district sustainability goals
  • Develop district sustainability goals or adopt/commit to a school sustainability framework, such as the Green Schools Alliance.

 Download document here.