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New York Recycles! Poster Contest Rules

Rules for the 2018 Contest

photo of 2009 poster contest winnersWe are once again inviting all of New York State's public and private school children and youth organizations to showcase their artistic talent and their commitment to the environment by participating in the 16th Annual New York Recycles Poster Contest sponsored by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) and the New York Recycles Steering Committee. This poster contest helps us to achieve our goal of higher excellence in waste reduction, recycling, composting, and buying recycled products and packaging.

The New York State winners receive the honor of having their artwork in the NY Recycles calendar, which will be distributed throughout the State.

Below are the rules for our poster contest. In addition, our web page New York Recycles can provide you with information on waste reduction, reuse, recycling, composting and buying recycled products and packaging. You may use all or any part of this information to help your students appreciate the importance of reducing our solid waste, and the beneficial impacts that it has on our environment.

Please read the poster contest rules carefully, as only posters that meet the contest rules will be considered. Posters must be submitted to us no later than May 16, 2018.

We hope your school district or organization will participate in this worthwhile event and we look forward to working with you! If you have any questions, please call Kayla Montanye at (518) 402-8706.


All students in New York State public and private schools, and youth organizations. Please note that any immediate family member of a NYS Department of Environmental Conservation employee will not be considered eligible for final awards on the State judging level.


The New York Recycles! Poster Contest will have the following themes:

  • New York Recycles!
  • Compost is Hot!
  • Put Plastics in Their Place!
  • Recycle Wherever You Go!
  • Reduce Your Use

Students are encouraged to share their views on these themes. For more information and ideas for your poster, check out our website on waste reduction, reuse, recycling, composting and buying recycled products and packaging and our website on theme ideas for the poster contest. If you need help brainstorming, these are great resources!

Poster Requirements

Posters created by students must be their own original artwork. Copyrighted characters (such as Superman) or copyrighted clip art will not be accepted.


Students may use a variety of media, such as watercolor, pen and ink, crayon, chalk, markers, etc. Brighter colors, however, reproduce better for the calendar and light pencil marks will not show up. Students are encouraged to incorporate recycled or recyclable materials into their creations. Keep in mind most posters will likely be on public display, and should be easy to see or read.
Note: If students are incorporating recyclables into their artwork, depth is restricted to half an inch.

Size & Layout

image of proper layout

Minimum: 8 ½" x 11"
Maximum: 18" x 24"
Landscape Layout only!!

Landscape reproduces better for the calendar.

Judging Procedure

School and/or Youth Organization Level - Each participating school/youth group is permitted to submit up to fifteen (15) posters. How your school/youth group decides on the fifteen (15) posters is up to you. Some schools/youth groups may wish to have a contest and choose the entries; others may just have the art teacher, principal or group leader choose.

If a student's school or classroom is not participating, a student may still submit an individual entry. In this case, parent contact information should be listed on the release form.

Each poster must have the Release Form (PDF) (19 KB) securely fastened to the back of the poster. A poster not accompanied by a completed Release Form will not be eligible for further judging. The posters, with Release Forms, must be mailed or delivered by May 16, 2018 to:

Attn: Kayla Montanye
625 Broadway
Albany, NY 12233-7253

State Judging - The posters will be grouped in one of the following five grade categories:

  • Kindergarten through 3rd Grade;
  • 4th through 6th Grade;
  • 7th through 9th Grade;
  • 10th through 12th Grade; and
  • Special Education.

The three (3) best posters in each grade category will be judged based on the judging criteria listed below. First, second and third place will be awarded in each grade category.

Judging Criteria

1. Clear message conveyed by the text and artwork;
2. One of the poster themes listed above is clearly addressed;
3. Creativity, originality and artistic quality;
4. Visual clarity - easily read; and
5. Bright and colorful.
6. The Release Form is attached to the back of the poster.
7. No copyrighted artwork, characters, or name brands (i.e. Coke, Pepsi) are used in the poster.


School/Youth Organization Level

Each participant should receive a Certificate of Recognition (PDF) (153 KB) to acknowledge the effort. Please photocopy as many as you need.

State Winners

The first, second and third place winners in each grade category will receive a framed copy of their winning artwork and other prizes. In addition, each student will receive the honor of having their artwork replicated in the NY Recycles calendar, which will be distributed throughout the State. Posters from the final State judging may be on public display at the DEC's Albany office building and other locations.

Please Remember:

  • Up to fifteen (15) entries may be submitted by each school/youth organization.
  • Entries must meet the poster requirements specified above, and must have the Release Form (PDF) (19 KB) securely fastened to the back of the poster.
  • All artwork submitted becomes the property of the NYSDEC, and may be reproduced.

Important Dates For The Contest Are

Now through May 16, 2018
- Students create their posters.
- Schools/Youth Groups choose up to fifteen (15) posters.

No later than May 16, 2018
- Schools/Youth Organization mail or deliver up to 15 entries to the address above for state judging.

Week of May 29, 2018
- DEC conducts State judging.

No later than June 5, 2018
- DEC notifies winners and their schools/youth organization, and gives further instruction as to student recognition.

November 2018
- 2019 NY Recycles Calendar will be available.

If you have any questions on this poster contest or need additional information on waste reduction, reuse, recycling, composting and buying recycled, please contact Kayla Montanye, NYSDEC, at (518) 402-8706.

More about New York Recycles! Poster Contest Rules: