Recycling Module – Students

Welcome Students!

The typical life of a manufactured item involves harvesting raw materials, manufacturing and selling products to consumers, and then disposing of the products into landfills.  While this linear process is part of our daily life, it is not sustainable for our planet because the resources our planet can provide are finite.  When an item has reached the end of this linear process, there is not a pathway for it to follow to be used again.

Fortunately, we have created the concept of recycling.  Recycling turns this linear system of manufacturing goods into a closed system.  However, this system is not perfect.  Some materials, like aluminum and glass, can be recycled over and over and still maintain their initial properties.  Other materials, like paper and plastics, can be recycled a limited number of times before they can no longer be used to create new products.

 “Reduce, reuse, recycle” is a phrase you have probably been hearing your whole life.  Reducing and reusing are as important, if not more so, than recycling.  The underlying goal for all of these steps is the same: to produce less waste and consume fewer resources.  Reducing, reusing, and recycling provide economic benefits for consumers and manufacturers and environmental benefits for all. 

The focus of this module is to alter the waste disposal behaviors at your school.  Throughout this module you will learn the importance of recycling and will conduct a waste audit and analysis to determine how to improve waste disposal at school.  After completing this module you will be able to alter or create a recycling program at your school.  You will report your findings to school officials and develop strategies to increase recycling and reduce overall waste from your school.


Sarah Lykens
Outreach Assistant
Coalition for the Upper South Platte

Student Information
The online pre-assessment can be accessed here. Your teacher will give you the access code and your log in name.  Use the same log in name and get the access code from your teacher for the post-assessment at the end of the module found here.  

By completing this module, students will be able to: (1) collect and analyze data, (2) compile data in a useful manner to educate the public, (3) understand the significance of recycling in relation to economics and the environment, (4) discuss school waste production.
Objectives and Colorado State Standards

Vendor Information
Audit and Analysis
Cost Analysis
Improvements Discussion

Vendor Questions Worksheet 
Individual Site Audit Form
Site Analysis
Site Analysis Form
School-wide Analysis Sheet
School-wide Analysis Form 
Cost Analysis Worksheet
Improvements Worksheet

“Common Wastes & Materials.” Wastes – Resource Conservation – Common Wastes & Materials. Environmental Protection Agency, 13 June 2012.

Joffe-Walt, Chana. “Planet Money.” Recycling Industry Slows As Consumers Shop Less. KPLU. NPR, 22 Dec. 2008.

“Life-Cycle of Waste Image and Description.” Climate Change & Waste. Environmental Protection Agency, 4 June 2012.

Medina, Martin. “Global Recycling Supply Chains and Waste Picking in Developing Countries.” UNU-WIDER, 2009.


“Recycling at School.” MassRecycle.

“Recycling Market Development.” Wastes – Resource Conservation – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Environmental Protection Agency, 13 June 2012.

“Recycling Means Business.” Environmental Protection Agency, September 1995.

“Recycling of Materials Local or global?” Pieter van Beukering, Institute for Environmental Studies – Amsterdam T. Randall Curlee, Oak Ridge National Laboratory Tennessee

“Recycling.” Wastes – Resource Conservation – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Environmental Protection Agency, 13 June 2012.

Walls-Thumma, Dawn. “Recycling Instead of Landfills.” Green Living. National Geographic.

What Do All Those Plastic Resin Codes Mean? Colorado Recycles.

“What Happens When You Recycle?” Grays Harbor County.

Wieman, Bethany. “Recycling Vs. Landfills or Incinerators.” Green Living. National Geographic.

Wills, Amanda. “The Ultimate Plastic Breakdown.” Earth911, 23 Nov. 2009.

Park County Vision 2020 Recycling Center:

U. S. Environmental Protection Agency.  Recycling is Working.

U. S. Environmental Protection Agency.  Recycling.

More information on starting recycling programs and waste audits:

Green School article:

Information on Recycling initiative in New York City:

Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch:

Recycling of Materials: Local or Global?