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In Search of Reused & Recycled

Objective: Students will be able to: identify recycled and recyclable products by reading packaging; understand impacts of solid waste on landfills; relate conserving natural resources to the importance of recycling and buying recycled products. Materials: · packaging from paper reams red marker · empty plastic containers · empty cardboard boxes & boxboard containers (like cereal & shoe boxes) · aluminum cans scissors glue · glass & steel are not recommended, but their labeling can be used · large piece of butcher paper to span a wall in classroom or hallway · copies of Natural Resources & Recycling worksheet

Reduce-Reuse-Recycle Grade: 3-6 Vocabulary: recycle, reuse, recyclable, Mobius symbol, landfill, natural resources, non-renewable, post-consumer, post-industrial Duration:1 class

Landfills across the country are full of items that could have been reused or recycled instead of thrown away. Recycling and reusing products uses less energy and fewer natural resources than manufacturing items from scratch. The market for the recyclable materials is based on the demand for recycled products. The recycling `loop' includes collecting recyclable products, manufacturing recycled items from the used materials, and purchasing items made from recycled materials. The Author: Lydia Zambrano, Texas Natural Mobius symbol is an unregulated Resources Conservation Commission symbol that may indicate many different things about the material: it could be recyclable, but only if Activity: there is a facility to process it and a 1.Students should choose a selection of products market to sell it; it could be made of from the materials list and: recycled material; or it could just be · Circle the Mobius symbol in red & indicate an encouragement from the producer what the symbol tells them. for you to recycle. Needless to say, · Is there a difference between the Mobius you can't always know what that little symbols on each material? symbol is trying to tell you. · Which materials have a Mobius symbol with a number inside? Indicate the number, and describe what each number means. Do the paper products indicate if they're made from recycled content? What % comes from recycled content and is it post-consumer or post-industrial content? · List the products that come in recycled or recyclable containers. How can you tell? 2.Using glue & scissors, students should attach the products they've analyzed onto the butcher paper in categories (such as: recyclable, reusable, not recyclable, made of recycled material, etc.) along with a description of what each category means.


Enrichment: 1.Evaluate recycling procedures in school. List some products that are not recyclable at school and generate ideas for how these products can be more effectively disposed of or if there are alternatives that are recyclable or come in recycled packaging.

Natural resources and recycling

recyclable material resources used to make it how resources are obtained where resources may come from some products made from recycled materials how recycling helps conserve natural resources

aluminum foil beverage cans cat food cans bauxite ore electricity

open pit mines dams on rivers and drilling for oil to bur in power plant

tropical forests of Brazil, Austraila, recycled Guinea, aluminum cans Jamaica can be back on the shelf in as Cascade little as six forests and weeks streams

In manufacturing, energy use is reduced by 95% when recyclable cans are used instead of raw materials. Recycling also cuts air pollution by 95% and water pollution by 97%.

paper writing paper cardboard magazines newspaper scrap paper glass food & beverage containers sand, limestone, soda ash energy to heat furnaces mining drilling for natural gas and building dams for electricity Western United States Arctic tundra Cascade streams trees & wood waste electricity water logging building dams on rivers Pacific Northwest forests and rivers

boxes, insulation, plant pots, newspaper, writing paper, pencils, ceiling tiles, hydroseed mixture, cat litter

Using recycled content in writing paper reduces energy use by 33%, cuts air pollution by 73% and cuts water pollution by 35%. If every household in the US used old bags for just one grocery shopping trip, we might save as many as 60,000 trees Using recycled content reduces energy use by 5% and air pollution by 22%. Using 50% recycled glass cuts manufacturing waste by 75%. Glass never wears out--it can be recycled indefinitely.

food and beverage containers

tin & steel cans

food & beverage cans iron ore for steel open pit mining aerosol cans

cassiterite for tin

dredging river bottoms

tropical forests of Bolivia, Peru, Brazil, food and Thailand, beverage Malaysia containers, aerosol and forests of paint cans Minnesota, Michigan, Brazil, Canada carpet, plastic bags, recycling and composting bins, fleece jackets, toys, lumber

Recycling steel and tin cans saves 74% of the energy used to produce them from raw materials. Americans use 100 million tin and steel cans every day.

Plastic bottles tubs bags

Courtesy: Metro Waste Reduction Education (503) 797-1552

oil and natural gas energy

drilling for oil and gas

arctic tundra

Energy savings of 88% when bottles are made from recycled plastic versus virgin materials. Recycling keeps approximately 175 million pounds of PET out of landfills every year. 535 million pounds are still being thrown away.

Recycling... Sorting It All Out

Objective: To help students test and better understand the properties of different recyclable materials. Materials: · recyclable items (steel cans, aluminum cans, plastic bottles & jugs, newspapers, magazines, notebook paper, corrugated cardboard, cereal boxes) balance & scale · aquarium or large clear conainer with water · rocks and other items that vary in density · calculators magnets scissors · copies of Sorting Statistics worksheet Author: The Quest for Less, United States Environmental Protection Agency

Reduce-Reuse-Recycle Grade: 3-6 Vocabulary: recyclable, magnetism, density, mass Duration: 1 class Recycling can reduce the amount of waste that ends up in the landfill. Recyclables are sent to a facility where they are sorted into different categories of materials. It is important for the recycling facility to be able to tell the difference between materials because they get recycled into different products.


1. Organize three different stations throughout the classroom. · Station 1: Include steel and aluminum cans and a magnet. · Station 2: Include plastic items and a large clear container filled with water, along with scissors and a few heavy and light objects. · Station 3: Include paper items and a scale. An information sheet should explain mass of an object. Use the scale to determine an object's mass. 2. Hand out the Sorting Statistics worksheet and divide students into small groups. Students should rotate through the three stations in their groups and complete the worksheet as they go. They should discuss the answers with their group members. 3. At Station 1, students should experiment with the magnet and the different metals to discover that some of the metals are attracted to the magnet while others are not. At Station 2, students should compare the density of various plastic items. They can compare the density of other items, and can cut the plastic into pieces to see how density is affected. At Station 3, students can place various paper items on the scale and record different weights.


Students should understand that: recycling facilities use magnets to separate some metals and that density is important in separating different plastics; recycling facilities may use sinking/floating exercises to sort plastics from other materials; recycling facilities use scales to weigh the recyclable material so they can determine how much material is being recycled.


Visit a local recycling center, like the Kent County Materials Recovery Facility. Call 336-4371 for tour information.

Sorting Statistics



Station One


How many steel cans are at Station One? Use the magnet to find out. Now, multiply that number by the number of students in your classroom. If you recycled 56 percent of these cans, approximately how many would that be? As a nation, we recycled 56 percent of our steel cans in 1998. ________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________

2. How would magnets help workers at a recycling sorting facility?

________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________

3. Suppose you have 10 aluminum cans--5 containing recycled aluminum and 5 with no recycled content (made from bauxite, the primary ore). Next, suppose it takes 5 watts of energy to make a can with recycled aluminum and 100 watts to make a can from bauxite. How much energy does it take to make the 5 recycled-content cans? How about the 5 nonrecycled cans? Note that it takes 95 percent less energy to make an aluminum can from recycled aluminum versus making one from scratch. ________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________

4. Calculate the aluminum can recycling rate for Anywhereville, USA, given the following information:

· 1,938 pounds of aluminum cans were recycled · 3,370 pounds of aluminum cans were produced · There are an average of 33.04 cans per pound Number of cans recycled: ________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________ Number of cans produced: ________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________ Recycling rate: ________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________

The Quest for Less

Unit 2, Chapter 2.2, Recycling


Station Two


Does the size and shape of an object affect its density? Test a few different types of plastic objects in the water and record your results. You can cut up some plastic and try some other objects for comparison--record all results. ____________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________

2. How is testing for density helpful to a recycling sorting facility?

______________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________

3. Note that the following formula is used to determine the density of an item: density =

mass (grams)/volume (centimeters3). Now, assume a piece of garbage--a popcorn bag--has a mass of 12 grams and a volume of 5 centimeters3. What is its density? ___________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________

4. Note that water has a density of 1.0 g/cm . Items that have a density of less than 1 float in water,


while those that are more than 1 sink. Do plastic bottles have a density greater or less than 1? ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________________

Station Three


Describe the characteristics of the different types of paper. How are they similar? How are they different? Consider color, texture, glossiness, thickness, etc. ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________

2. Assuming you recycle 7 newspapers a week, 365 days a year, how many newspapers do you recycle per year? _______________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________

3. Using the scale at Station Three, weigh a newspaper to determine its mass.

Using your answer from question 2, what is the total mass (in pounds) of the newspapers you recycle each year? In tons? (There are 2,205 pounds in a ton.) ________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________

4. Assuming that each ton of paper recycled saves 17 trees, how many trees have

you saved by recycling your newspaper each year? ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________


Unit 2, Chapter 2.2, Recycling The Quest for Less

The Reason for Recycling Rules

Objective: Students will be able to identify ways recyclable materials can be separated and sorted at a materials recovery facility. Materials: · large bag of recyclables and a few items that are large and not recyclable) fan · paper clips bits of wire vacuum · a strong magnet wide & shallow dish pan · water large box lid stop watch or clock · copies of MRF Notes worksheet Author: Keep America Beautiful

Reduce-Reuse-Recycle Grade: 6-8 Vocabulary: commingle, ferrous metal, materials recovery facility recyclable Duration: 1 class Many communities transport collected recyclables to a materials recovery facility (MRF, commonly referred to as a "murf"). A MRF is a facility for sorting, separating, and processing recyclables. Depending on the type of MRF, it takes a variety of recyclables and separates them by hand, mechanical processing or both. MRFs also have to sort out the non-recyclables that will end up in the trash.

Activity: Designate 6 areas of the classroom that will be used to sort recyclables. In small groups, students will be called upon to assist the instructor with the following simulations to process recyclables in your classroom MRF: Tipping Floor: The recyclables should be randomly scattered around the classroom to simulate curbside recycling. In groups, students should take a cardboard box and collect the recyclables. Empty the recyclables from the boxes into a pile on the floor. Conveyor Belt: Students should brainstorm how to move the materials in the pile to be sorted. Students will conclude that a conveyor belt will be most efficient. Students will pile the material onto the box lid and slide the lid to area 3. Is anything too large or too heavy to move on the conveyor belt? Record the results. Blower Simulation: All participants should wear safety goggles. Turn on the fan. Drop each object in front of the blowing fan. What happens to each? Record the results. Vacuum Simulation: Turn on the vacuum. Have students experiment with what materials will be sucked into the vacuum when placed at the end of the vacuum hose. Are there limitations of what can be put in the vacuum? What material is best sorted by vacuum? Flotation Simulation: Fill a dish pan with water. Choose a few recyclable samples and drop them into the water, one at a time. Does the item float or sink? Record the results. Relate this to how MRFs may use flotation for sorting. Magnetic Removal Simulation: Test each material for magnetic properties. Record the results. Relate this to how MRFs use magnets to sort ferrous metals. Try piling the recyclables and attempt to pull out the ferrous metals using only one magnet. Assessment: Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each procedure that may be used at MRFs. Discuss the use of manual processing (sorting by hand) and how the use of mechanical and manual systems may be used together. How do items that are not recyclable get sorted out? Enrichment: 1.Schedule a tour of the Kent County MRF by calling 336-4371.

Name: ________________________

MRF Notes

Area 1: Tipping Floor What processes were attempted? Circle the process that worked best. 1. _____________________________________________________________________________ 2. _____________________________________________________________________________ 3. _____________________________________________________________________________ 4. _____________________________________________________________________________ 5. _____________________________________________________________________________

Area 2: Conveyor Belt Simulation Material: Prediction: Actual: (Will or will not separate) 1. _____________________________________________________________________________ 2. _____________________________________________________________________________ 3. _____________________________________________________________________________ 4. _____________________________________________________________________________ 5. _____________________________________________________________________________

Area 3: Blower Simulation Material:

Prediction: (Will or will not be blown)


1. _____________________________________________________________________________ 2. _____________________________________________________________________________ 3. _____________________________________________________________________________ 4. _____________________________________________________________________________ 5. _____________________________________________________________________________

Area 4: Vacuum Simulation Material:

Prediction: Actual: (Will or will not be vacuumed)

1. _____________________________________________________________________________ 2. _____________________________________________________________________________ 3. _____________________________________________________________________________ 4. _____________________________________________________________________________ 5. _____________________________________________________________________________

Area 5: Flotation Simulation Material:

Prediction: (Floats or sinks)


1. _____________________________________________________________________________ 2. _____________________________________________________________________________ 3. _____________________________________________________________________________ 4. _____________________________________________________________________________ 5. _____________________________________________________________________________

Area 6: Magnetic Removal Simulation Material: Prediction: Actual: (Will or will not be picked up by a magnet) 1. _____________________________________________________________________________ 2. _____________________________________________________________________________ 3. _____________________________________________________________________________ 4. _____________________________________________________________________________ 5. _____________________________________________________________________________

Find the Floaters & Sinkers

Objective: To identify six different kinds of recycled plastic resins by observing them floating and/or sinking in different liquids. Materials: · 6 kinds of resins or pellets (2 pellets of each kind each per group) ordering information is available in the Supplemental section · 3 60 mL cups 30 mL distilled water · chemical splash goggles · plastic pipettes, spoons or droppers · permanent marker 3 craft sticks · 30 mL concentrated CaCL2 solution · 30 mL 70% isopropyl alcohol · copy of Student Flow Chart · copy of Teacher Notes Author: American Plastics Council

Reduce-Reuse-Recycle Grade: 7 Vocabulary: float, sink, resin, density, plastic Duration: 1 class You are working in a plastic recycling factory. The factory takes used plastic containers and chops them up into small pieces called `flake'. The flake is melted and made into pellets. These pellets or resins are used to make more plastic items, like garbage cans, carpeting and plastic lumber. Someone lost their data sheet on the identification of the pellets. It's your job to help identify the pellets.

Activity: 1. Label cups with the marker: distilled water, CaCL2, isopropyl alcohol. Put on your goggles and fill each cup with 30 mL of the appropriate liquid. Take the 12 pellets (2 of each kind of plastic resin) and place them in a the cup of distilled water. Stir them with a craft stick to make sure no bubbles are adhering to the pellets. Observe the floaters and the sinkers. 2. Scoop out the floaters & place them in 30 mL of alcohol solution. Stir with a craft stick. Record your observations of the floaters in the notes box on the bottom of the flow chart. Notice their color and their behavior in water and alcohol. 3. Scoop out the floaters from the solution. Add squirts of water from a plastic pipette, or add ½ teaspoon of water into the alcohol solution containing sinkers. Stir with a craft stick, dropper or pipette. Observe. Keep adding small amounts of water until you see some pellets float. Record your observations in the notes box at the bottom of the flow chart. You should now have notes on three kinds of pellets. 4. Go back to the distilled water cup and take out the sinkers. Place all of them into the CaCL2. Observe. Record any notes about the pellets. 5. Using a pipette, add a squirt of water or add ½ teaspoon distilled water to the solution. Stir with a craft stick. Observe. Add more water and stir. Continue adding water until pellets sink. Stop and record your observations. 6. Continue to add small amounts of water until more pellets sink. Stop and record your observations. You should have notes on all six kinds of pellets. Evaluation: Complete notes on the student flow chart of observations of the six pellets.

Explore: Student Flow Chart Floaters and Sinkers

Water Test Sinks Calcium Chloride Test Floats

70% Isopropyl Alcohol Test

All Float Floats Diluted Calcium Chloride Test #1 M Sinks

Floats Y Diluted Calcium Chloride Test #2


Alcohol + Water Test Floats Z X Sinks

Floats W P


Notes on Resins: (Use the back of this page if you need more room.) M. ____________________________________________________________________ Z. ____________________________________________________________________ X _____________________________________________________________________ Y. ____________________________________________________________________ W ____________________________________________________________________ P. ____________________________________________________________________

© 2004 American Plastics Council

Teacher Notes on Explore: Can You Find the Floaters and Sinkers?

Purpose: Students experiment with the six types of resin pellets found in the Hands On Plastics Kit Edition Two - HOP 2. Students working individually, in pairs or in small groups can perform this lab. Students should be familiar with the concept of density. Look at the picture (on the next page) of the cups of solutions with the resins pellets to see how the set-up will appear when the students are doing the experiment. Materials: (for a class of 30 students working in pairs) 45 salsa cups or small cups that have 60 mL capacity 45 craft sticks (one for water, one for alcohol solutions, and one for calcium chloride) These are available at craft stores such as Hobby Lobby or Michael's. 450 mL 70% isopropyl alcohol (drugstore or grocery store) Color blue with food coloring. Make sure it is not 90% alcohol. 450 mL calcium chloride solution Color yellow with food coloring. If students make their own, they will need to add two level tablespoons of calcium chloride (30 grams) to 30 mL of distilled water. This is an exothermic process as the solid dissolves. The cup will get hot! (It could reach 80° C.) The chemical can be obtained from a chemical supply company or as Prestone® Driveway Heat, a product for melting ice on driveways and sidewalks. It can be purchased at Wal-Mart Automotive. A 9.5 lb container costs $5.60. Purchase it in the winter since stores do not carry it in the summer. Be careful that the product you purchase isn't a mixture of several salts. Sodium chloride does not work for this application because its saturated solutions are not more dense than the densest of the resins. If you prepare the solution for the class, mix 450 mL of distilled water with 2 cups of calcium chloride. This solution making process is exothermic! The 450 ml solution may get as hot as 100° C. Prepare the solution in a Pyrex® 1 liter beaker or a large glass canning jar. Place the beaker or jar in a bucket of cold water to help cool the solution as you mix it. Wear your goggles! Calcium chloride may irritate your skin. Wash with water if your skin comes in contact with the solution. Make the solution in a well-ventilated room since the water vapor from the hot solution may be irritating to breathe. Be sure to check the calcium chloride solution to make sure that all 3 pellets (Pete, PS and PVC float). Depending on the brand of CaCL2 used you may need to add more of the solute to make the solution dense enough for these pellets to float. 30 pairs of chemical splash goggles 60 plastic pipets or droppers or teaspoons 6 kinds of plastic resin pellets ­ 2 of each of the 6 kinds (Each group will have a total of 12 pellets) NOTE: This activity is repeated with plastic container pieces in the Elaborate Phase of the Learning Cycle on Day Seven. So you will need to have solutions prepared two times for this Learning Cycle. However, the Elaborate part needs twice as much

© 2004 American Plastics Council

solution so prepare 3 x 450 mL of the calcium chloride solution. Do this in three batches not as one large solution since the reaction is so exothermic. Time: one class period Advanced preparation: 1. Students may need help in reading a flow chart. Make an overhead transparency of the flow chart. Ask students to tell what a person should do next when two pellets of the same color are observed sinking in water? The answer should be that the pellets will be removed from the water and placed in the calcium chloride solution for further testing. Another question to ask, while reading the flow chart, is how would a student describe the behavior of pellet "M"? The answer is that "M" is a floater in water and a floater in 70 % isopropyl alcohol. 2. You need to provide waste containers for the used pellets and colored solutions at the end of the laboratory period. The pellets may be washed (by the teacher) and reused many times. The solutions may be disposed of by washing down the drain. Key to the Flow Chart: Notes on Resins: M. Resin is less dense than 70% isopropyl alcohol, and is less dense than water. (PP) Z. Resin is less dense than HDPE but more dense than PP. (LDPE) X. Resin is less dense than water, more dense than 70% alcohol and more dense than LDPE. (HDPE) Y. Resin is more dense than water and is the most dense of the three than sink in water. (PETE) W. Resin is more dense than water, floats in calcium chloride solution, floats in the first test solution, and still floats in the second test solution of calcium chloride. (PS) P. Resin is more dense than water, floats in calcium chloride solution, floats in the first test solution, and is more dense than PS. (PVC)

© 2004 American Plastics Council

© 2004 American Plastics Council


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