Classroom Solid Waste Analysis

WASTE ­ WHERE DOES IT COME FROM?
WHERE DOES IT GO?

K-12


OBJECTIVES: The students will identify the various waste materials generated in the school. They will describe the sequence of collection and the destination of the materials identified.

RESOURCES: Classroom wastebasket, maintenance personnel, area road map, chalkboard.

PROCEDURE:

1. Separate the class into three groups.

2. Have group one examine the contents of the classroom wastebasket. Ask the group to identify the various types of waste materials generated in the classroom. Categorize the waste materials as paper products, glass, metals, plastics, organic wastes, etc. Record the findings on the chalkboard.

3. The second group should examine the flow of the waste materials after they are collected from the classroom. This may require an interview with maintenance personnel. Are the wastes consolidated with other classroom's wastes? Why? Are the wastes transferred to a large capacity receptacle? Are any wastes burned in a school incinerator? Are any waste materials recycled? If wastes are collected from the school by the municipality or a commercial disposal firm, where are the wastes disposed?

4. Have the third group determine the types of wastes generated in special subject areas of the school (arts and crafts, gym, home economics, industrial arts, etc.), the school cafeteria, the office, the maintenance area. Are these wastes handled in the same manner as classroom wastes? Determine what other wastes are generated by the school. Where do these wastes go?

5. Regroup the class. Have a member or members of each group report the group findings, beginning with group one. Create a diagram or a flowchart on the chalkboard to outline the reports of groups two and three, indicating the steps between waste generation and waste disposal.

6. Ask whether any members of the class live near or have visited a landfill, an incinerator, a recycling center, or a sewage treatment plant. Ask for descriptions and impressions of the facilities. Determine whether any of these facilities are located near the school. You may need to contact your county planning department for the locations. Plot the facility locations and the school location on the road map. Calculate the distances that waste materials must be transported to each facility. List the type of wastes generated by the school which are managed by each facility and the distance of each facility from the school.

7. (Optional) Arrange a class field trip to one or more waste management facility. Create a class record for each facility. Include photos, drawings, essays, and audio or video tape recordings.

This lesson plan was prepared by the Recycling Division of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

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