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NSW Department of Education and Communities

Environmental Education

Purchasing and waste

Teaching strategies and student investigations

recycle symbolMany of the products that a school purchases can be unsustainable and cause us to waste energy and resources. Strategies and resources you can use with students focusing on purchasing and waste are contained in Implementing the Environmental Education Policy in your school (pdf 2.26 MB published 2001) pages 100-107

School waste audit investigation.

Investigate the five different waste streams schools. The Sustainability action process-Waste and materials resource supports students to implement waste management strategies.

A waste audit calculates the volumes and types of waste the school generates. This checklist identifies safety and risk issues you need to manage.  Try to calculate the cost of managing the school’s waste.

Paper is one of the main items used in schools. Use the Paper product road map to understand waste paper as a resource. Investigate the volume and cost of paper purchased and the cost to recycle it. In your class discuss both the economic and environmental costs and benefits of recycling paper.  Undertake a consumption and purchasing survey for paper products in your school.

low waste lunch program at school can reduce packaging waste.

Product road maps

Product road maps provide a way to investigate sustainability considerations for production and manufacturing, use and re-use or recycling of various products.

Teaching and learning resources:

  • Paper – Stage 2 (Closing the Paper Loop Unit -Science/Technology – Microsoft Word 1.5MB)
  • Clothing – Stage 3 (Product road map - clothing unit -Science/Technology and HSIE - Microsoft Word 1.6 MB)
  • Mobile phone – Stage 4 (The changing nature of the world, Mobile phones unit -Geography - Microsoft Word 4.64 MB)

Product road maps interactive whiteboard learning materials

Stage 2 student activity:

  • choose one of the 4 product road maps below
  • read the instructions and sequence the processes
  • label each of the steps.

              Paper,   Clothing,    Building,    Potato  

Stage 3 student activity:

  • choose one of the 4 product road maps below
  • read the instructions and sequence the processes
  • label each of the steps  
  • write a one sentence description of what is occurring at each step and present this to your group or class as you are sequencing the steps in the product road map.

                Paper,   Clothing,   Building,   Potato  

Produced with support from the NSW Environmental Trust   NSW Environmental Trust logo 

Waste, Recycling and Purchasing Policy (WRAPP)

Developing a whole of life cycle understanding of materials and products gives students a deeper understanding of resource management and the sustainability improvements that can be made. The resources below have been developed to help students investigate the life cycle of products and waste streams. 

Compost and Worm Tutorials

Be part of the compost revolution, your online, step-by-step guide to composting and wormfarming. The Compost Revolution is a community initiative in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney.

Student spotlight

View the video created by K-6 Purple from the Special Needs Unit at Towradgi Public School on the topic of recycling - The Three R's - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. As one  person commented on the YouTube clip, "Great graphics, funky beat, superb dancing, and an important message for kids and the world at large".


The LivingGreener website produced by the Australian Government, provides information and assistance to help everyone live more sustainably. The section on Waste includes information on building materials; clothing; furniture; garage and toxic waste; kitchen and food waste; recycling and reducing waste. There is also a section on Buy re-used and recycled.

PrimaryConnections - linking science with literacy

The Australian Academy of Science, PrimaryConnections - Linking science with literacy (A partnership between the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Government Department of Education focusing on developing students' knoweldge, skills, understanding and capacities in both science and literacy) has produced a number of curriculum resources including Package it better (Stage 3) and Material world (Stage 2). View a full listing of their curriculum resources. 

National Pollutant Inventory - Learn about emissions

For students area of this Australian Goverment (Dept of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities) provides Substance fact sheets, pollution map, true/false pollution quiz and more.  There is also a For teachers area with units of work.

Closing the paper loop

paper road with lego blocks


This video on YouTube is made using the Slowmation technique. It shows how to close the paper loop by re-using, recycling and buying recycled paper.

Keep Australia Beautiful

Reduce your waste and help Keep Australia Beautiful. Site contains fact sheets, key statistics, downloadable poster and ideas on how to get involved at your school.

Quick links

 Visy recyling - Information available on innovative and sustainable packaging, paper and recycling.

All about waste - why is waste a problem? How does it hurt the environment? What are the various types of waste? These are some of the issues dealt with on the Office of Environment and Heritage website.

Clean up Australia provide lesson plans and activity sheets on:


These one-page guides provide a list of quality online resources in a given subject area. In each case syllabus and curriculum information are given as to how the resources might be used. For the full range of Sites2See visit TaLe, and type "sites2see" into the search field.  For non-DET employees you can access Sites2See from the Parent and Community portal on TaLe.  The Green Office - information, case studies and tips for improving resource efficiency in an office.  Green skills - links to key research on climate change and sustainable business practice, with a focus on the implications for vocational education and training.

Learning Objects

A number of learning objects highlighting awareness of waste management are available from the Student Learning Object pages.




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