Activity Introduction

Quick summary: Students investigate their school’s waste. As they develop a classification system for the waste, they investigate which items come from renewable and non-renewable resources. Students identify which non-renewable resources can be recycled. They do a quick spot audit of how well their school is managing its waste.   

NRW Logo 2012-10-00 LgeThis lesson has been developed as part of the Schools Recycle Right Challenge for Planet Ark’s National Recycling Week. Register your lesson or other activities so they can be counted towards the national achievement and to receive other free support materials.


Learning goals for this activity include: 

  • Students collect data about the school’s renewable and non- renewable waste system. 
  • They draw conclusions and communicate their findings to the school community.

Australian Curriculum content descriptions: 

Year 7 Science:

  • Some of Earth’s resources are renewable, but others are non-renewable (ACSSU116)
  • Science understanding influences the development of practices in areas of human activity such as industry, agriculture and marine and terrestrial resource management (ACSHE121)
  • Summarise data, from students’ own investigations and secondary sources, and use scientific understanding to identify relationships and draw conclusions (ACSIS130)

Year level: 7

Syllabus OutcomesSC4-13ES, SC4-12ES

Time needed: 90 minutes

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – confirm students have developed a data record sheet that will be useful for data analysis. Make sure students don’t handle waste. Consider allowing students to use the staffroom and photocopy areas as part of their audit.

Resources needed: Clipboards and pens, or tablets (iPads) and access to computers. Also get permission to inform staff if students are going to locations such as staff lunch rooms to collect data.

Digital technology opportunities: Tablets (iPads) for producing data sheets and recording data

Assumed prior learning: Functional knowledge of the school’s waste system.

Key words: Waste, recycling, resource, renewable, non-renewable, rubbish, landfill, contamination. 

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.

These Planet Ark resources were developed by Cool Australia with funding from the Alcoa Foundation.


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher preparation

Overarching learning goals:

  • Classify everyday consumable materials as being made from renewable or non-renewable resources.
  • Some non-renewable resources can be recycled.
  • Collect data about the school's waste and its waste management system.
  • Analyse the data and present conclusions to appropriate people in the school community.  

Teacher content information: Some of our resources are renewable, such as water and timber. While at times they may be in short supply, the resource is constantly being renewed with in a relatively short amount of time. Non-renewable resources can only be extracted once from the earth for example coal can only be burnt once. However, some non-renewable resources such as aluminium can be recycled over and over again.

Waste is the general term provided to any of the material we have used that is no longer required for its original purpose. Some waste can be recycled. Green waste can usually be composted. There are opportunities to r

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Student Worksheet

Thought starters: What would your home and school look like if there was no way to get rid of waste?

Watch video 7 – Manufacturing of material

1) In the video, which materials were renewable resources? What makes them renewable? 

2) Which materials were non-renewable resources? What made them non-renewable? 

3) What products can be recycled?

Our school's waste system

What kind of waste containers are used in your school? How is the waste sorted?

Type of waste container  Waste that goes into the container  Waste that should
not go into the
Waste is a 
Waste is a 











Define the word contamination:

How will we stay safe when inspecting waste containers and litter?

Data record sheet

This record sheet is for a school that has composting as part of its waste system. You c

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