Recycling centre small world play
It’s never too early to start talking about environmental issues with kids. I set up this fun activity with Ethan so he could learn about the first step in recycling the different things that we put in the bin.
This activity is fun, engaging and involves active investigation. It’s also a beneficial introduction to recycling that can prompt important conversations about waste and climate change.
Gather your supplies
- Read a book or watch a YouTube clip about recycling.
- Print out labels including plastic, metal, paper and green waste.
- Select a spot to set up the activity.
- Place a small pile of recyclable waste inside your garbage truck.
- Have fun delivering the waste to the recycling centre.
- Investigate each item and place it under which label it belongs to.
- Discuss why the waste is sorted into these categories and what happens once it has been sorted.
Answering the tough questions about recycling
If you aren’t an expert on recycling, here are some good points that you might want to know.
Recycling is the process of converting waste into new, useful products. Recycling helps to reduce landfill which is where huge holes are dug in the ground in order to bury rubbish. It also helps in reducing air and water pollution.
How is our waste recycled?
Paper is taken to a recycling plant and separated into types and grades. The paper is then washed with soapy water to remove inks, plastic film, staples and glue before adding new materials to the recycled to make new paper products including cardboard and office paper.
Glass is taken to a glass treatment plant and is sorted by colour and washed to remove any impurities. The glass is then crushed and melted, then moulded into new products such as bottles and jars. Glass doesn’t degrade as part of the recycling process and therefore can be recycled endlessly
Aluminium like soft drink cans are cleaned. They are then melted and turned into molten aluminium (a liquid). The liquid is put into moulds to make large blocks called ingots. Each ingot contains about 1.6 million drinks cans. The ingots are rolled out, to give the aluminium greater flexibility and strength. The flattened sheets are made into products such as cans, chocolate wrapping and foil trays.
Plastics are cleaned and then ground down or shredded into smaller pieces. Water is used to separate the different grades of plastic. Different grades of plastic have different buoyancies and separate when floated in water. Once the plastics are separated they are ground into smaller pieces which are formed into pellets. The pellets can then be transported, heated and re-moulded into new plastic products.
Why do we recycle?
- Reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which helps to tackle climate change.
- Reduce air and water pollution that are generated through the process of extracting, refining and processing raw materials.
- Save energy*.
- Reduce overall waste.
- Maximise our use of existing resources, thereby reducing potentially harmful activities such as mining.
*Companies that use recycled aluminum save up to 95% energy during production of aluminum products when compared to companies that source raw materials.
Ideas for involving your kids in waste reduction at home
Return and earn scheme https://returnandearn.org.au/ involving collecting the eligible bottles and handing them into a return centre to receive 10 cents back. The tangible reward of money can serve as the incentive for kids not solely eager on the idea of recycling.
This one involves a little more commitment and isn’t exactly recycling but can be lots of fun and involves definitely makes use of things that would otherwise go to landfill. Don’t have a pet but are always hounded to get one? See if your children can handle looking after their worm farm first.
Here’s a link to simple instructions for constructing a DIY worm farm.
Don’t feel up to the full commitment of a worm farm or don’t have the space? You could try these mini ones and watch what they do as they are doing it.
Creative uses for recycled products
Adidas and Parley recycled ocean plastic shoes
The 11 million shoes made of recycled plastic shoes that Adidas made in was a project founded by the activist designer Cyrill Gutsch. The 2018 goal was to produce 5 million of the shoes. It is Gutsch’s belief that creativity catalyzes change faster than awareness alone and I couldn’t agree more. In terms of incorporating fashion, Gutsch says “fashion has the power to create trends which make you do things that often make zero sense”. He wants these shoes to be symbols of change. Startlingly, 92% of ocean waste is made up of single use plastics.
Recycled glass road bases
The City of Canterbury Bankstown is leading the way in investigating the possibility of using recycled glass in road bases. The Kelso Waste Facility is home to the investigation after the council was awarded a $179 000 grant. If trials are successful, could become a solution for stockpiled waste glass which is sometimes diverted to landfill. It is estimated more than five million tonnes of recycled material is used in road base in NSW each year.
Facts about recycling
- the energy saved by recycling one plastic bottle will power a computer
for 25 minutes.
- recycling one aluminium can saves enough power to run your TV for 3
- recycled paper uses 99% less water and 50% less energy to produce
compared to paper created using new raw materials.
- Every piece of plastic ever produced still exists in the world
- Coca Cola says 1.7 billion cans of coke are sold every single day. If
all of these cans were recycled it would save enough energy for a car to
drive across Australia 230 000 times.
Once you have done this activity, you might want to take the next step and doin our paper recycling activity!
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