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EcoRecycle Victoria



  Steve Malcolm
Program Manager Education


Effective waste and litter education in schools offers a number of important benefits.

This is increasingly being recognised by schools, as can be seen from the many school requests or advice and resource materials that EcoRecycle Victoria receives.

Some schools have already established impressive programs and EcoRecycle Victoria has been working closely with school and other organisations, in consultation with the Department of Education and Catholic Education Office, to research and develop effective approaches for waste and litter education.

A best practice approach to waste and litter education involves the integration of curriculum and waste conscious school operations, which offers not only educational benefits and reduced environmental impact, but also cost savings to the school and, in many local communities, a valuable element for a school's marketing strategy.

A key focus is to help schools use waste and litter as a theme within Key Learning Areas and VCE Studies, rather than as an "add-on" which requires extracurriculum time. Environmental issues such as waste and litter have shown themselves to be very useful themes which schools can use to simultaneously address both environmental/SOSE learning outcomes and outcomes in a diversity of other Key Learning Areas (Science, English LOTE, Technology, Arts, Health and PE, Mathematics) and at various CSF levels. Educational materials to suit specific KLA's and CSF levels, and VCE Studies, have been developed and some have already been released.

A number of features have emerged as being of particular importance in school curricula for achieving the motivation, understanding and action skills students need as a basis for minimising waste and litter throughout their lives.

These features are as follows:

  • drama-music-arts activities to capture attention, entertain, inform and motivate students;

  • practical-"hands-on" activities selected to have strong appeal to students (such as establishing and running a wormery or wider waste management system);

  • excursions to provide students with first-hand experience of:

  • landfills (to appreciate the huge volumes of waste involved) resource recovery facilities and product manufacturing using recycled materials;

  • local waterways/natural areas to develop appreciation of their local environment and recognise the damaging effect of litter;

  • use of interactive computer resources (e.g. computer networking to access information and exchange ideas and achievements; interactive CD's with a waste and litter minimisation theme);

  • a waste and litter element included in a number of different learning areas and age levels, consistent with the CSF and VCE Study Designs;

  • students playing a leading role in planning and implementing strategies to minimise waste and litter in the school's own operations;

  • home assignments and other educational approaches which foster learning and action for waste and litter minimisation in out-o-school settings, including home and public places;

  • delivery of the above components in an integrated fashion and based on sound waste minimisation and sustainable development principles (e.g. follow the waste minimisation hierarchy), and on sound environmental education principles (as identified in the Department of Education Environmental Education Policy Statement (revised version due in 1998), Victorian Principals' Association Environmental Education Strategy (1997) and other relevant documents.

An issue of particular concern to schools is the availability of cost effective recycling collection services. This is affected by fluctuating levels of supply and demand (and consequently buy-back prices) for recycled materials in this young and rapidly evolving area. It is important to keep in mind that schools can derive substantial benefit from action to reduce, reuse and compost, regardless of whether recycling services are feasible at any point in time.

There is great potential for businesses and councils to help their local community to minimise waste and litter by supporting school programs that increase the knowledge, skills and commitment needed for each individual to take effective action in their present and future lives.

  1. A Waste Wise Schools Program which offers substantial support for schools to develop and run their own waste and litter programs, covering both curriculum and school operating practices. This support will be available to schools which have a strong commitment to waste and litter education. It will include:

    • a comprehensive resource kit designed to help schools achieve all the elements of a best practice approach to waste and litter education;

    • Funds for teacher release for professional development and curriculum development;Provision of professional development activities and ongoing access to specialist advice;

    • and a network of light house schools set up across the state to provide working examples of best practice approaches.

This program is funded by EcoRecycle Victoria and managed by the Gould League. It will be carried out in coordination with the various providers of waste and litter education materials and services, and the system of regional waste management groups and education officers being set up throughout the state.

  1. An Education Centre Support Program which will provide education centres such as the Gould League Recycling Education Centre and CERES Environmental Park with extra resources to enhance the accessibility, range and quality of their school programs. This will be done in conjunction with a review of the statewide provision of waste and litter education services by education centres to identify needs and opportunities.

  2. An Information Service which will provide ready access for schools to detailed information, via a telephone hotline and website, on all aspects of waste and litter, including educational materials, programs and other resources.

    For further information, please contact:

    • EcoRecycle Victoria
      - Infoline:  1800 35 3233

    • EcoRecycle Victoria
      - Visit the website

    • Waste Wise Schools Program
      c/- Gould League -  Phone: +61 03 9532 0909



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