Activity Introduction

Quick summary: Students will learn about the concept of closing the loop and investigate the environmental savings their school can make by using recycled paper. They will conduct an investigation regarding paper usage in their school and use rate, conversion and percentages to calculate and comprehend findings. 

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 the concept of closing the loop
  • Students will know how the use of recycled products reduces our impact on the environment
  • Students will be able to use rate, conversion and percentage to solve problems related to paper usage.

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).
  • Connect fractions, decimals and percentages and carry out simple conversions (ACMNA157).
  • Recognise and solve problems involving simple ratios (ACMNA173).

Year 8 Maths

  • Solve problems involving the use of percentages, including percentage increases and decreases, with and without digital technologies (ACMNA187).
  • Solve a range of problems involving rates and ratios, with and without digital technologies (ACMNA188).

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

Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability OI.8.

Relevant parts of Year 7 Mathematics achievement standards: Students express one quantity as a fraction or percentage of another, and 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.

Topic: Recycling, Sustainability.

Unit of work: Visy Education – Secondary Mathematics.

Time required: 75 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – teacher will be required to facilitate an investigation as well as classroom discussion.

Resources required: 

  • Student Worksheets (one per student)
  • Device capable of presenting a video and projecting images to the class.

Keywords: Recycling, closing the loop, making projections, percentage, conversion, rate.

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 the concept of closing the loop
  • ... know how the use of recycled products reduces our impact on the environment
  • ... be able to use rate, conversion and percentage to solve problems related to paper usage.

Success criteria: Students can...

  • ... explain what is meant by closing the loop
  • ... contrast the environmental effects of using products made from recyclable material, with those that are made from raw materials
  • ... use rate and conversion to make yearly projections of paper usage
  • ... use percentages to calculate environmental savings.

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

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Student Worksheet

Thought starter: What is ‘Closing the loop’?

Part A: Introduction

Recycling is not just about putting recyclable materials in the correct bin. It’s also about the creation of new goods from recycled material. When these new goods are used and discarded correctly (i.e. into the recycling bin), the recycling loop is ‘closed’ and the process restarts. By ‘closing the loop’, we are able to conserve natural resources and reduce our impact on the environment.

Have a look at this image and answer the questions below:

1. What is this symbol?

2. What do each of the three arrows in this symbol represent?

Now have a look at the following graphic. This image reveals the number of recyclable products manufactured at Visy in one year, as well as the amount of material Visy takes in and re-manufactures. Most of these measures are in tonnes which is 1000 kilograms.

(Source: Visy, 2021)

Find the amount of paper and cardboard recycled at Visy and the amount of paper-related products that

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