Search for Resources

Redesigning Plastic Packaging

Secondary

Description

The lesson focuses on the widespread practice of plastic packaging and the problems it creates. It is one of a series of lessons within the World’s Largest Lesson that explores the circular economy. Students evaluate the effectiveness of the ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ method of managing waste and are then tasked with designing alternative approaches to packaging that removes waste entirely from the system. The lesson consists of two parts:

In part one, students examine case studies, view slides & animations, conduct research and take part in discussions to familiarize themselves with the key issues related to the widespread use of plastics and the important differences between linear and circular economies.

In part two, students examine current processes that go into packaging potato chips or similar products and the waste problems that result. Then they are introduced to a design and prototyping process that they will use as a guide to create a circular, waste-free alternative.

Students will present and discuss their prototypes and compile a list of individual, personal actions that will be required in order to move to a circular economy.

 

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • inquiry
  • problem solving
  • teamwork
  • communication

Strengths

  • The resource emphasizes student inquiry.
  • The resource encourages systems thinking by having students consider the social, economic and environmental aspects associated with plastic packaging.
  • The resource has application for a number of subject areas and grade levels.
  • The resource provides an excellent opportunity to bring the discussion of sustainable development to the economics and chemistry classrooms.
  • The resource provides comprehensive background information for both the teacher and students.

Weaknesses

  • More could be done to require and support students implementing their ideas for action in the community.

Recommendation of how and where to use it

The inquiry nature of this resource should appeal to secondary teachers from a number of curriculum areas including economics, social studies, geography, chemistry and environmental studies.  While it serves as a stand-alone activity it also supports other World Largest Lesson resources dealing with the circular economy.

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

  • Step 1Select a province
  • Alberta
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Knowledge and Employability Science: Environmental Chemistry (Social and Environmental Contexts Emphasis)
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Issues for Canadians: Economic Systems in Canada and the United
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Chemistry
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Chemistry 20:The Diversity of Matter and Chemical Bonding: In introduction to organic chemistry
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 20-4 (Knowledge and Employability Science): Applications of Matter and Chemical Change
        • Science 20: Chemical Changes
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Economics
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Macroeconomics 30: Course Content
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • World Geography 30: World Patterns of Humankind's Use of the Earth
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 30: Chemistry and the Environment
  • British Columbia
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Chemical processes require energy change as atoms are rearranged
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Chemistry
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Chemistry 11: Organic chemistry and its applications have significant implications for human health, society, and the environment
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 11: Human practices affect the sustainability of ecosystems
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science for Citizenship 11: Scientific understanding enables humans to respond and adapt to changes locally and globally
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Economics
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Economic Theory 12: The implementation of economic theories has profound effects on social and political decision making and movements
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 12: Living sustainably supports the well-being of self, community, and Earth.
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Human Geography 12: Human activities alter landscapes in a variety of ways.
  • Manitoba
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Chemistry
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Organic Chemistry
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Citizenship and Sustainability: Area of Inquiry: Environment
        • Global Issues
  • New Brunswick
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Chemical Reactions
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Economics
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Economics 120: Fundamental Economic Concepts
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Introduction to Environmental Science 120: Sustainable Development
  • Newfoundland & Labrador
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Canadian Geography 1202: Economic Issues in Canadian Geography
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 1206: Chemical Reactions
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Chemistry
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Chemistry 2202:: Organic Chemistry
      • Economics
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Canadian Economics 2203:Economic Issues
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Economics
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Entrepreneurship 3209: Business and the Marketplace
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 3205: Introduction to Environmental Science
  • Northwest Territories
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Chemistry
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Issues for Canadians: Economic Systems in Canada and the United
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Chemistry
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Chemistry 20:The Diversity of Matter and Chemical Bonding: In introduction to organic chemistry
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 30: Chemistry and the Environment
  • Nova Scotia
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Geography 10: Spaceship Earth
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 10:Chemical Reactions
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Chemistry
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Chemistry 11: Organic Chemistry
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Economics
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Canadian Economics:Fundamental Economic Concepts
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Global Geography:Resources and Commodities
  • Nunavut
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Chemistry and the Environment
        • Knowledge and Employability Science: Environmental Chemistry (Social and Environmental Contexts Emphasis)
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Issues for Canadians: Economic Systems in Canada and the United
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Chemistry
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • The Diversity of Matter and Chemical Bonding
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Environmental Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Studies 35: Northern Environmental Issues
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 30: Chemistry and the Environment
  • Ontario
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Issues in Canadian Geography (Academic): Liveable Communities
        • Issues in Canadian Geography (Applied): Liveable Communities
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science (Academic):Chemistry: Chemical Reactions
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Chemistry
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Hydrocarbons and Energy
      • Economics
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • The Individual and the Economy (Univ./College Prep.): Fundamentals of Economics
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science (Univ/College Prep.) Reducing and Managing Waste
        • Environmental Science (Univ/College Prep.) Scientific Solutions to Contemporary Environmental Challenges
        • Environmental Science (Workplace Prep.) Human Impact on the Environment
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Economics
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Analysing Current Economic Issues Univ. Prep.) Fundamentals of Economics
        • Making Personal Economic Choices (Workplace Prep.) Markets, Consumers, and Producers
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Living in a Sustainable World (Workplace Prep.) Ecosystems and Human Activity
        • Living in a Sustainable World (Workplace Prep.) Sustainability of Natural Resources
        • The Environment & Resource Management (Univ./College Prep) : Ecological Systems: Interactions and Interdependence
        • The Environment & Resource Management (Workplace Preparation): Human-Environment Interactions
        • World Geography: Urban Patterns & Populations (Univ. / College Prep.): Sustainability and Stewardship
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science (Workplace Preparation): Chemicals in Consumer Products
  • Prince Edward Island
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 421A: Chemical Reactions
        • Sciene 431A: Chemical Reactions
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Chemistry
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Chemistry 521A: Organic Chemistry
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Economics
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Introductory Economics 621A: Introduction and Basic Concepts
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 621A: Environmental Challenges and Successes
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • What can I do?
        • Geography 621A Global Issues
        • Geography 631A Global Issues: What Can I Do?
  • Quebec
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • The Contemporary World: Environment
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Contemporary World: Environment
  • Saskatchewan
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 10: Chemical Reactions
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Social Studies 10: International Economic Organizations
  • Yukon Territory
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Chemical processes require energy change as atoms are rearranged
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Chemistry
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Chemistry 11: Organic chemistry and its applications have significant implications for human health, society, and the environment
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 11: Human practices affect the sustainability of ecosystems
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science for Citizenship 11: Scientific understanding enables humans to respond and adapt to changes locally and globally
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Economics
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Economic Theory 12: The implementation of economic theories has profound effects on social and political decision making and movements
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 12: Living sustainably supports the well-being of self, community, and Earth.
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Human Geography 12: Human activities alter landscapes in a variety of ways.

Themes Addressed

  • Citizenship (1)

    • Sustainable Consumption
  • Energy (1)

    • Energy Use
  • Waste Management (4)

    • Cradle-to-Cradle
    • Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
    • Solid Waste Disposal
    • Source Reduction

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Very Good

In this inquiry, students review different models and case studies and come up with their own solutions to current design problems in packaging.

Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Very Good

The resource requires students to consider the economic, social and environmental considerations that should go into product (in this case packaging) designs.

Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Good

The context of a linear vs a circular economy in which these activities are placed addresses the complexities involved in resolving problems related to plastic packaging. 

Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Poor/Not considered

Students develop action ideas and plans but implementation is not a requirement.

Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Very Good

In the concluding activity, students are specifically required to consider their own roles and responsibilities in addressing problems resulting from plastic packaging.

Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Poor/Not considered

Not Considered.

Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Good

The lessons effectively reveal the negative impact that plastics and the linear design used to manufacture packaging are having on the environment.  Students are asked to take responsible actions to address these impacts.

Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Good

The issues related to plastic waste in the environment is highly relevant to the students' experiences.

Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Satisfactory

The discussion of a linear vs a circular economy incorporates past, present and future designs.

Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Satisfactory

While the lessons support the circular economy, students are provided with balanced information and the opportunity to draw their own conclusions.

Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Good

The resource is appropriate for use across a range of subject areas.

Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Good

Students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions. Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry

Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.

 

Differentiated Instruction Good

The nature of the inquiry (reading, discussing, viewing, designing) addresses a range of learning styles.

Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Satisfactory

There is a definite 'real world' aspect to this inquiry, especially in the design activity.

Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Satisfactory

Students work in groups.

Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Poor/Not considered

While the lesson involves students producing a product, there is an absence of tools, guidelines or suggestions for assessment.

Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Satisfactory
Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Very Good

Students explore plastics, plastic packaging and design models with the help of a number of relevant and engaging case studies.

Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Good

Through the guided inquiry approach employed in the resource, students develop their own ideas and create unique solutions to design problems in plastic packaging.

Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.