Lessons to bring sustainability and recycling in the classroom

National Recycling Week helps you reduce your waste and recycle right. 

Planet Ark’s National Recycling Week started in 1996 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. In partnership with Planet Ark, we have developed lessons from early learning through to year 10 to help educators bring these important topics into the classroom.

National Recycling Week is held in the second week of November each year but you can recycle all year-round with these lessons which were designed to be used at any time. Click here to find out more about National Recycling Week and the Schools Recycle Right Challenge. 

We have lessons for all year levels that can be used to support learning. Check them out below. 



Schools Recycle Right Challenge

This year, National Recycling Week explores the idea that Waste isn’t Waste until it’s Wasted. You’re invited to get involved and join your community on all events on how you use resources by giving them a second life, reducing the need for newly produced resources, and recycling, this year it is all about quality over quantity, it is not about recycling more, but recycling better. Reducing our waste not only keeps valuable materials out of landfill it also benefits the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Thinking that waste isn’t waste until it’s wasted also provides some valuable insight into how the recycling and resource management industry works in conjunction to your efforts.

The Schools Recycle Right Challenge runs from 9 October to 17 November 2023 and offers a wide range of recycling themed activities, lesson plans and events ideas that have been developed specifically for Australian schools. Register your lesson or other activities so they can be counted towards the national achievement and receive other free support materials.

back to top

Schools Recycle Right Challenge New Activities

Reducing Lunchbox Waste – Early Learning

Children look at how to reduce the amount of packaging from their lunchboxes that ends up in landfill by creating a circular economy comic to change their behaviours.

Design Thinking – Upcycling Timber – Years 3 & 4

Design & Technology
Students use design thinking to empathise with an audience and define their needs to inform their eventual upcycled timber design. Students then use the needs of the identified user to ideate and prototype a design.

The Australasian Recycling Label – Foundation to Year 6

The Australasian Recycling Label (ARL) is an evidence-based system for Australia and New Zealand providing consumers with easy and accurate recycling information. Unlike other labels, the ARL shows you how to dispose of each component of your packaging based on the recycling infrastructure and council acceptance in the country.

More than 400 organisations have signed up to the program. Look out for it as it appears on more products every day.

Recycling Labels Hopscotch – Foundation

HPE, Science, Technology
Students play a fun, physical game of Hopscotch while learning to associate common household and classroom waste with the appropriate Australasian Recycling Label. 

Recycling Labels Memory Game – Years 1 & 2

HPE, Science, Technology
Students design and create a memory game to identify the Australasian Recycling Labels and the purpose behind them, specifically the intention of reducing material waste and helping the environment.

Recycling Labels Mascots – Years 3 & 4

HPE, Science, Technology, Arts
Students will learn the design and purpose behind the Australasian Recycling Labels. They will then creatively communicate these understandings and the Labels to others in the form of a poster.

Recycling Labels Board Game
 – Years 5 – 6

HPE, Science, Technology, Visual Arts
Students learn the design of and purpose behind the Australasian Recycling Labels. They will then communicate their findings to others in the form of an interactive board game.

More on the Australasian Recycling Label:

Australasian Recycling Label
– Years 5 & 6

Science, English, Design, Sustainability
The lessons in this unit explore the purpose of the Australasian Recycling Label (ARL) and how to translate this understanding into environmental action. 

back to top

Early Learning Curriculum:

National Recycling Week  – Early Learning

Lessons use the Early Learning Framework to introduce these topics to younger children through play-based activities. Kids get to learn about packaging, paper recycling, as well as sorting and categorising waste and have great fun in the process. 

back to top

Primary Curriculum: 

National Recycling Week
Foundation – Year 2

Science, Geography, English, History
Students get to explore how much waste they create in their lunchbox or classroom, consider how we change this and what has happened in the past.

National Recycling Week – Years 3 & 4

Science, Geography, English, Design & Technology
The lessons in this unit are a great way for you and your students to take positive steps in reducing the amount of waste we create.

NAPLAN for Primary School – Years 3 & 5

NAPLAN Preparation
This unit includes English NAPLAN preparation for all Primary School students and includes lessons on e-waste, paper recycling and consumption.

National Recycling Week – Years 5 & 6

Maths, Science, Geography, English, Technology, Art & Music
This unit of work lets you bring the topic of recycling into most subjects and is a great way for students to take positive action in reducing waste.

back to top

Secondary Curriculum

National Recycling Week – History – Year 7

Investigate the history of  Australia’s Indigenous peoples and compare their resource use with what we consume today.

NAPLAN Preparation
– Year 7 

The lessons in this unit are a great way for you and your students to take positive steps in reducing the amount of waste we create.

National Recycling Week – English – Years 7 & 8

Look at what happens to your mobile phone, and other e-waste in these lessons. For extended literacy skills, these lessons are great to combine with NAPLAN preparation lessons.

National Recycling Week – Maths – Years 7 & 8

Students use mathematics to solve problems with litter and outdoor bins. They calculate and use percentages to compare rates of recycling and environmental benefit.

National Recycling Week – Science – Years 7 & 8

Students get to investigate the science of organic waste or look at sorting at a Materials Recovery Facility and so much more. 

National Recycling Week – Design and Technology
– Years 7 – 10

In this unit, you and your students can look at sustainable design, exploring the role of packaging labelling in recycling,  

National Recycling Week – Arts – Years 7 – 10

It’s time to get creative with waste!  Students can create a garbage gallery or investigate recycling rhythms through performing arts.  Lessons get students to respond to existing work and look to create their own unique work.

National Recycling Week – HASS – Years 7 – 10

Students get to rethink advertising, look at consumption and consider the concept of obsolescence or investigate e-waste and sustainable design. 

National Recycling Week – Mathematics – Year 9

Students use Pi to calculate the area and volume of aluminium cans,  or use mean, median, mode and outliner mathematical concepts analyse recycling and contamination data.

National Recycling Week – Science – Years 9 & 10

Students can use an online periodic table to investigate and compare the atomic structure of metals, or test the properties of beverage containers to hold either hot or cold drinks.

back to top


With Thanks to Our Partners

Held in the second week of November each year, Planet Ark National Recycling Week aims to educate and inspire households, schools, workplaces and councils to rethink their rubbish by following the waste hierarchy – reduce, reuse and then recycle. National Recycling Week helps you better understand what happens to your rubbish and recycling beyond the bin, and how to improve your environmental footprint with tips and ideas on applying the waste hierarchy to your daily life. 

The Schools Recycle Right Challenge runs for six weeks each year ending on the last Friday of National Recycling Week. The challenge provides a way for schools and early learning centres to get involved with recycling via a range of curriculum-aligned lesson plans, guides and activities for every learning stage, enabling the whole schools, class teachers and students to get involved at a level that suits them

©2022 Planet Ark and Cool Australia