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Recycling Plastics Game

In this activity, students learn about common types of household plastic waste and what it could be recycled into.

When we recycle plastic, each type of plastic may be turned into different products. Not all plastics are recyclable in every region. For example, in parts of MetroVancouver, we may not recycle plastic triangle symbols 3, 6, or 7.

The recycling process allows us to turn products at the end of use into a new product. It is amazing to think of what our household recycled products can turn into!

A few examples:

  • 10 soft drink bottles are required to make the fibrefill for one ski jacket.
  • 40 plastic bottles make one square metre of carpeting.
  • 40 soft drink bottles are needed to make the recycled fibrefill of one sleeping bag.

Recycling still comes at a cost. Although recycled products are better for the environment than new products, recycling uses energy and can create toxic by-products. This is why is important to:

  • refuse materials that are unnecessary.
  • rethink whether all of the recyclable materials we use are needed in the first place.
  • reduce the consumption of recyclable products.
  • move towards reusable products whenever possible.


  • Describe the environmental importance of recycling.

  • Identify the impact that garbage/landfills have on the environment.

  • Identify recyclable materials, and sort household recycling.


Key Questions

  • What does the number in the recycle symbol mean?
  • Which of these items can be recycled in your area?
  • If we kept recyclables in the trash, what happens to them? What happens if we recycle them?
  • What are the other objects you can find around the classroom or around your house that are made of plastic? What do you think they can be recycled into?
  • Are there plastic items that cannot be recycled? What happens to them?

What To Do

Set Up

  1. Place 6 hula hoops on the floor in the centre of the class (or open space).
  2. Put a symbol card in the middle of each hula hoop.
  3. Hang item cards, visibly at the front of the room.
  4. Hand out a plastic item to each student.


  1. Hand out a plastic item to each student.
  2. Ask each student to find the numbered symbol stamped into the plastic.
  3. Once they have found the numbered symbols on their plastic items, they must run or walk to the appropriate symbol card.
  4. Each group at the symbol cards should examine their plastic items and decide which product their type of plastic could be turned into.
  5. Get a representative from each group to run or walk to the item card that represents the product their plastic can become.
  6. Once each group has selected an item card, they can flip them over to reveal the code and see if they guessed right. Those who guessed right can sit down.
  7. Those who did not guess right should trade item cards until they find the correct one for their type of plastic.
  8. Get the students to explain to the rest of the class what their plastic will be recycled into.


  • Research the plastic islands floating in the ocean. Discuss how we can avoid this fate for our oceans.
  • Rethink your waste. Think of the ways plastic items could be eliminated altogether from your life. How do we reduce their production? How do we reuse them?
  • Research where your local recycling depots send their recyclable materials. How far do these products go? What are they used for?
  • Create posters for your school on the importance of recycling plastics.

Other Resources

MetroVancouver | Single Use Items

Recycle BC | What Can I Recycle?

BC Green Games