Where are plastics?

Lesson overview

In this lesson students consider what happens to their rubbish once they have disposed of it. They discover the route a plastic bottle might take to landfill, recycling or litter. Students then go on to discover how plastic bottles can be recycled and the new products that can be made. They discuss what happens to plastic that isn’t disposed of responsibly, then make posters instructing how to recycle and keep a rubbish and recycling diary to monitor their recycling at home.

Learning outcomes
  • Understand what happens to rubbish when it is thrown away
  • Discover the products that can be made from recycled plastic
  • Consider where discarded plastic might end up if not disposed of responsibly
  • Create a poster instructing how to recycle
  • Keep a rubbish and recycling diary to monitor their own recycling
Lesson steps
  1. What happens to our rubbish? (10 mins)
    Students discuss what happens to their rubbish once it is thrown in the bin and share their own experiences of disposing of rubbish at home.
  2. What is recycling? (10 mins)
    They then find out that rubbish takes one of three routes, starting with recycling. Students explore the recycling process and discover what can be made from recycled plastic.
  3. Landfill and litter (10 mins)
    Students then go on to see that if plastic isn’t recycled it either goes to landfill or ends up as litter. They share their thoughts on these two options.
  4. How to recycle (20 mins)
    Armed with this knowledge students create a poster to encourage recycling and explain why it’s important for the environment.
  5. Recycling at home (10 mins)
    Students prepare to keep a rubbish and recycling diary at home, monitoring how much of their rubbish can and is recycled and what the process involves.
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