Activity Introduction

Quick summary: Students investigate the life cycle of green waste, from tree to bin to resource recovery facility to end product (compost). Students are asked to consider the environmental, economic and social benefits of recycling green waste as opposed to sending it to landfill.

Following these lessons plans is an ideal way for your students and the community to tune in to what happens to green waste once it is collected in a kerbside bin. The Back to Earth initiative is about connecting people with what happens to green waste once it leaves the garden, how it is processed, what it is used for at the end of this cycle and why its important to put the right things into the bin!  

Join thousands of others who have learnt about the benefits of using their green waste service correctly, for their communities and for the planet.  Don’t forget to check out the Back to Earth initiative website: – to learn more.

Learning goals:

  • Students understand the environmental risks of sending waste to landfill.
  • Students recognise the social, environmental and economic benefits of recycling green waste.
  • Students understand life cycle thinking in relation to green waste.

General capabilities: Critical and creative thinking.

Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability OI.8.

Australian Curriculum content description:

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)

Year 8 Science

  • Science and technology contribute to finding solutions to a range of contemporary issues; these solutions may impact on other areas of society and involve ethical considerations (ACSHE135)

Year 7 & 8 Design and Technologies

  • Critique needs or opportunities for designing and investigate, analyse and select from a range of materials, components, tools, equipment and processes to develop design ideas (ACTDEP035)

Syllabus Outcomes: SC4-13ES, SC4-11PW, SC4-12ES, T4.1.1.

Topic: Back to Earth

Time required: 2 x 60 mins

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – oversee activity

Resources required: Internet access, desktop or online animation program (e.g Wideo) OR desktop or online movie making program (e.g Animoto or Pixorial).

Digital technology opportunities: Desktop or online animation or movie creation, digital sharing capabilities.

Homework and extension opportunities: Includes opportunities for extension.

Keywords: Green waste, kerbside, recycling, life cycle, compost.

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


The Back to Earth Initiative would like to acknowledge Veolia and these participating councils.


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher preparation

Overarching learning goal: By participating in this activity students will understand the environmental risks of sending waste to landfill, and the social, environmental and economic benefits of recycling green waste. Students will also understand life cycle thinking in relation to green waste and how green waste can be turned into compost to improve soil health.

Teacher content information: Many people think that sending green waste to landfill is fine. It’s natural right?? Surely it just breaks down and creates good soil that helps the environment?? No, sadly, this is not what happens at all.

Landfill sites are essentially great big piles of rubbish. There is no air in these great big piles and this means nothing much breaks down in them at all (did you know that old landfills are now being treated as archaeological sites because the waste is so well preserved?!). The only organisms that can survive in a landfill are bacteria which decomposes the waste anaerobi

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Student Worksheet

Thought starter: Where does your green waste go?

Part 1.

Choose one the words below and write it next to the correct definition.


1. Food that is discarded or cannot be used.

2. Decayed organic material used as a fertiliser for growing plants.

3. The ability or capacity of something to be maintained or to sustain itself.

4. Any material that is discharged, emitted or deposited in our environment in a way that causes a problem for our environment.

5. To make (something) dangerous, dirty, or impure by adding something harmful or undesirable to it.

6. The evaluation of the environmental aspects of a product or service system through all stages of its life.

7. Any animal or plant based material and degradable carbon such as garden organics, food, timber, paper and cardboard.

8. Biodegradable waste that can be composed of garden or park waste, such as grass or flower cuttings and hedge trimmings.

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