National Recycling Week - Obsolescence or Opportunity?

National Recycling Week - Obsolescence or Opportunity?

Lesson 4 of 5 in this unit

  • Secondary
  • Year 7 - 8
  • Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Business and Economics
  • Technology
  • Environmental
  • Biodiversity
  • Recycling
  • ...

Lesson summary

In this activity students are asked to investigate the idea of planned obsolescence and how this relates to what we consume and how much we consume. Students are asked to watch and respond to a short clip from a documentary in their own time, then analyse the planned obsolescence of a product that they or someone in their family recently purchased. Students will then recreate a product according to a more sustainable design model.

Learning intentions:

Students will...

  • understand the term ‘planned obsolescence’
  • identify a range of ways that products are designed according to principles of planned obsolescence
  • recognise the role of consumers in the sustainability of products.

Lesson guides and printables

Lesson Plan
Student Worksheet
Teacher Content Info

Lesson details

Curriculum mapping

Australian Curriculum content descriptions:

Year 7 Economics and Business:

  • The ways consumers and producers respond to and influence each other in the market (ACHEK017)

Year 7 & 8 Design and Technologies:

  • Examine and prioritise competing factors including social, ethical and sustainability considerations in the development of technologies and designed solutions to meet community needs for preferred futures (ACTDEK029)
  • Investigate the ways in which products, services and environments evolve locally, regionally and globally through the creativity, innovation and enterprise of individuals and groups (ACTDEK030)
  • Generate, develop, test and communicate design ideas, plans and processes for various audiences using appropriate technical terms and technologies including graphical representation techniques (ACTDEP036)

Syllabus Outcomes: T4.1.2, T4.1.3, T4.4.1, T4.6.2, T4.2.1, T4.2.2, T4.5.2C4.2, C4.3, C4.4

General capabilities: Critical and creative thinking, Ethical understanding

Time required: 100 mins

Resources required


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

  • critical thinking
  • collaboration
  • problem finding   

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. 

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – oversee activity and facilitate discussion

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