Activity Introduction

Quick summary: In this lesson students will learn about the environmental benefits of recycling mobile phones and printer cartridges. Students will learn about how old mobiles and printer cartridges can be rescued from going to waste by recycling them in the correct collection bin. Students will research key questions about recycling and the impact electronic waste has on the environment.

This 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 intentions:

  • Students understand the role and impact of resource use;
  • Students begin to take responsibility for unwanted resources;
  • Students research the concept of product stewardship.

21st century skills:

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions: 

Year 4 Geography

  • The use and management of natural resources and waste, and the different views on how to do this sustainably (ACHASSK090)

Year 4 Science

  • Science knowledge helps people to understand the effect of their actions (ACSHE062)

Year 5 Science

  • Scientific knowledge is used to inform personal and community decisions (ACSHE217)

Year 6 Science

  • Scientific knowledge is used to inform personal and community decisions (ACSHE220)

Year 5 & 6 Design and Technology

  • Investigate characteristics and properties of a range of materials, systems, components, tools and equipment and evaluate the impact of their use (ACTDEK023)

Syllabus outcomes: GE2-3, ST2-11LW, ST3-6PW.

General capabilities: Literacy, Critical and Creative Thinking, Personal and Social Capabilities.

Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability OI.3, OI.7, OI.9

Relevant parts of Year 4 Science achievement standards: Students apply the observable properties of materials to explain how objects and materials can be used. 

Relevant parts of Year 5 Science achievement standards: Students classify substances according to their observable properties and behaviours.

Relevant parts of Year 6 Science achievement standards: Students compare and classify different types of observable changes to materials.

Relevant parts of Year 4 Geography achievement standards: Students develop geographical questions to investigate and locate, collect and sort information and data from different sources to answer these questions.

Relevant parts of Year 5 & 6 Design and Technology achievement standards: Students describe competing considerations in the design of products, services and environments, taking into account sustainability.

Topic: Consumption, National Recycling Week, Cartridges, Resource Recovery

Unit of work: National Recycling week

Time required: 70 minutes

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – facilitate class sharing activities and discussion.

Resources required: A range of whiteboard markers, internet access, data projectors and compatible device capable of playing an online video, enough devices to facilitate online research in groups of 3-4 students, Student Worksheet (one copy per student OR computers/tablets to access the online worksheet).

Additional resources:  

Keywords: Waste, litter, e-waste, mobile phones, printer cartridges, consumption, MobileMuster.

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 learn that by recycling their mobiles and printer cartridges, they not only make their waste pile smaller, but also reduce the consumption of natural resources.

Success criteria: Students can...

  • ...form their own questions about e-waste
  • ...conduct research to answer their questions about e-waste
  • ...critically assess their thought processes around electronic consumption 


Teacher content information: Planet Ark founded National Recycling Week to bring a national focus to the environmental benefits of recycling. This highly regarded annual campaign continues to educate and stimulate behaviour change by promoting kerbside, industrial and community recycling initiative. It also gives people the tools to minimise waste and manage material resources responsibly at home, work and school.

Teaching Sequence

10 minutes – Part A: Recycling a Phone?
30 minutes – Part B: Recycling Questions
30 minutes – Part C: Recycle Re

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Student Worksheet

mobile-phones-photoframe-1Thought Starter: How do I rescue my old mobile phone?

Your mobile phone has stopped working. You depend on your mobile to stay in contact with friends and family. You need to decide whether to have your old mobile repaired, buy a new mobile phone and recycle the broken one or use an older mobile phone and keep the broken one.  

Which four of the following things are important when you are making your decision? Write your criteria in the table below.

  • I want a low cost option
  • I want a quick solution
  • I want to have the latest technology
  • I want a sustainable solution
  • I want a long term solution
  • I want to recycle my waste
  • I want low future costs
  • I want to reduce my waste

Rank your criteria to the choices below. Ranking criteria: 3 = Best, 2 = Medium, 1 = Worst. 

CRITERIA Repair Model Recycle and buy new Use old and keep broken
Total Rankings


Explain your choice in a couple o

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