National Recycling Week - Break Down The Waste

National Recycling Week - Break Down The Waste

Lesson 2 of 3 in this unit

  • Primary
  • Year 3 - 4
  • Science
  • Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Geography
  • Environmental
  • Recycling
  • Sustainability
  • ...

Lesson summary

In this activity students investigate the composition of recyclable materials and look at how the composition affects the rate of break down. In two competing groups, student work to order a range of different waste materials in the order that they break down from fastest to slowest. Finally they are asked to create a poster or infographic describing break down rates of waste materials and tips for reducing waste.

Learning intentions:

Students will...

  • understand that waste materials have different rates of decomposition
  • recognise that these rates can vary from several weeks to forever
  • understand that we all have a role to play in reducing waste in our environment.

Lesson guides and printables

Lesson Plan
Student Worksheet
Teacher Content Info

Lesson details

Curriculum mapping

Australian Curriculum content descriptions:

Year 4 Science:

  • Natural and processed materials have a range of physical properties; These properties can influence their use (ACSSU074)
  • Science knowledge helps people to understand the effect of their actions (ACSHE062)
  • Represent and communicate ideas and findings in a variety of ways such as diagrams, physical representations and simple reports (ACSIS071)

Year 4 Geography:

  • The use and management of natural resources and waste, and the different views on how to do this sustainably (ACHASSK090)
  • Present ideas, findings and conclusions in texts and modes that incorporate digital and non-digital representations and discipline-specific terms (ACHASSI082)
  • Reflect on learning to propose actions in response to an issue or challenge and consider possible effects of proposed actions (ACHASSI081)

Syllabus OutcomesGE2-2, GE2-3, GE2-4ST2-11LW, ST2-4WS, ST2-13MW

Resources required

  • Printed teacher worksheet
  • Internet access
  • Student worksheet
  • Optional: infographic tool (e.g. Piktochart) and camera


This lesson is designed to build students’ competencies in the following skills:

  • Communication
  • Critical thinking
  • Collaboration

Additional info

Planet Ark’s National Recycling Week started in 1996 to bring a national focus to the environmental benefits of recycling. This highly regarded annual campaign continues to educate and stimulate behaviour change by promoting kerbside, industrial and community recycling initiative. It also gives people the tools to minimise waste and manage material resources responsibly at home, work and school. In partnership with Planet Ark, we have developed lessons from early learning through to year 10 to help educators bring these important topics into the classroom.

National Recycling Week is held in the second week of November each year but you can recycle all year-round with these lessons which were designed to be used at any time. Click here to find out more about National Recycling Week and the Schools Recycle Right Challenge. 

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