Choose one day where students bring their lunch waste back into class. Sort the waste into three piles: recycling; worm farm and compost; and landfill.

Learning objective

Students learn about the problems associated with landfill and write an article to persuade residents to make landfill the last resort.

Curriculum links

Text structure and organisation

Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability

Landfill, packaging, waste-free lunch

This lesson explores the types of waste found in a school lunch box and the problems associated with landfill.

A waste-free lunch contains no single-use packaging. Food and drinks are packed in reusable containers within a reusable lunch bag or box. All containers are resealable so that leftover food and drink can be consumed (or composted) later.

Holding a waste-free lunch day is a great way to:

  • reduce food and packaging waste in your school
  • help students and parents to understand the benefits of a waste-free lunch
  • educate and inspire students and the wider school community to avoid and recover waste.

Plastic sheet/newspaper for sorting lunch waste.

Access to the internet to watch a video.

  1. Students sort their lunch waste into three piles: recycling; worm farm and compost; and landfill, before discussing which pile has the most. Ask the questions: What is landfill? and Why is this a problem?
  2. Watch the video What happens to rubbish which shows general waste going to landfill, some of the problems with landfill and how these problems are managed.
  3. Discuss the problems associated with landfill (listed below) and brainstorm solutions:
    • Blown waste becomes litter.
    • Greenhouse gases, mainly methane, are released into the atmosphere.
    • Gases create a smell.
    • Emissions are produced by trucks transporting waste to and from landfill.
    • Contamination of the surrounding soil and water with toxins from leachate. Note: Landfills are lined to prevent this.
    • Valuable resources are buried which could be recovered through reuse or recycling.
  4. Students watch the Be a GREAT sort video which shows five ways to make landfill the last resort.
  5. Students use the great sort ideas to write a persuasive article for the local newspaper encouraging residents to avoid and reduce waste to landfill. Remind students to focus on the five solutions and not the problem. This helps the resident make the change.

Students research ways to make landfill the last resort at school and  pitch a presentation to the principal.