Activity Introduction

Quick summary: Students will investigate their usage and disposal of recyclable materials by collecting and analysing data. They will calculate percentages regarding their rate of recycling and apply these figures to average Australian statistics regarding the consumption and manufacture of recyclable materials. Students will be informed of proper recycling habits and understand their responsibility in diverting materials from landfill. 

This activity has been developed in partnership with Visy. For over 70 years Visy has been committed to finding sustainable solutions for Australia’s recyclables and helping to reduce local landfills. Visy collects, receives and sorts paper, cardboard, glass, plastics, steel and aluminium from households, businesses and schools with the purpose of reusing these products in the re-manufacture of new packaging products.

Learning intentions:

  • Students will understand and become familiar with proper recycling habits
  • Students will be able to calculate and apply percentages to solve problems related to recycling (focus for Years 7 and 8)
  • Students understand how to collect and use data to solve problems related to recycling (focus for Years 9 and 10)
  • Students understand the effects of sending recyclable material to landfill. 

21st century skills:

Critical ThinkingGlobal CitizenshipSocial SkillsProblem Solving

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions:

Year 7 Maths

  • Find percentages of quantities and express one quantity as a percentage of another, with and without digital technologies (ACMNA158).

Year 8 Maths

  • Solve problems involving the use of percentages, including percentage increases and decreases, with and without digital technologies (ACMNA187).

Year 9 Maths

  • Identify everyday questions and issues involving at least one numerical and at least one categorical variable, and collect data directly and from secondary sources (ACMSP228).

Year 10 Maths

  • Evaluate statistical reports in the media and other places by linking claims to displays, statistics and representative data (ACMSP253).

General capabilities: Numeracy, Critical and creative thinking, Ethical understanding.

Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability OI.8.

Relevant parts of Year 7 Mathematics achievement standards: Students solve problems involving percentages and all four operations with fractions and decimals.

Relevant parts of Year 8 Mathematics achievement standards: Students solve everyday problems involving rates, ratios and percentages.

Relevant parts of Year 9 Mathematics achievement standards: Students compare techniques for collecting data from primary and secondary sources.

Relevant parts of Year 10 Mathematics achievement standards: Students evaluate statistical reports.

Topic: Recycling, Sustainability.

Unit of work: Visy Education – Secondary Mathematics.

Time required: 80 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – Teacher will need to facilitate class discussion and provide additional information.

Resources required:

Keywords: Recycling, recycled, percentage, data, rate, landfill, problem-solving.

The information and statistics included in this document are approximate and have been simplified for educational/illustrative purposes. They should not be relied upon for any other purpose.

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


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher Preparation

Learning intentions: Students will...

  • ... understand and become familiar with proper recycling habits
  • ... be able to calculate and apply percentages to solve problems related to recycling (focus for Years 7 and 8)
  • ... understand how to collect and use data to solve problems related to recycling (focus for Years 9 and 10)
  • ... understand the effects of sending recyclable material to landfill. 

Success criteria: Students can...

  • ... identify the recyclable materials they are using on an average day
  • ... calculate percentages, averages and proportions in a problem-solving context.

Teacher content information: What do you do with the things you no longer want or need, such as the packaging from the food you buy or bottles you drink from? Many of us have grown up thinking of this as 'waste', as something we need to just get rid of. But what if we think of these materials as a resource for creating new and useful products? What if we can re-imagine h

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Student Worksheet

Thought starter: How many recyclable materials do I throw out?

Part A: What is recyclable?

Your teacher will provide you with a quiz. Once you have completed the quiz activity, work independently to answer the following questions:

1. What did you used to think about recycling?


2. What do you now think about recycling?

Part B: How much do I use?

For this part of the lesson you will be approximating your use and disposal of recyclable material, by completing the tables below. Each table focuses on different types of recyclable materials and should be completed simultaneously. To help you with this task, follow the steps outlined below. You may also choose to use the recycling posters as a guide.

1. Create lists: For each type of recyclable material, list all of the different products and items you might use within a week. Record these under the column heading Recyclable item and complete the Quantity used for each as well. Where necessary, put your items into groups (e.g. s

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