Recycled plastic rulers delight Lower North Shore school students

Last modified on 26 April 2024

OLOD students plastic rulers

Two local primary schools in the Willoughby local government area enjoyed a real life lesson in recycling after rubbish they collected at home was turned into plastic rulers, thanks to a Council sustainability education program.

Seeking to boost children’s understanding of the scourge of plastic waste and introduce circular economy principles, the Council developed a series of lessons for Our Lady of Dolours and Castle Cove primary schools. The trial program culminated in a school visit from recycling plastic specialists Defy Design, who presented each child with a ruler made from the pupils’ own plastic waste, and stamped with the school’s logo.

The circular economy model promotes the reusing and repairing of materials that are already in circulation, and in keeping with this theme the original concept and mould for the rulers was created by Ku-ring-gai Council, who had used it in a similar scheme. Following the successful trial, Willoughby City Council is hoping to partner with other local schools to deliver plastic waste and recycling education for the benefit of all children.

Willoughby City Mayor Tanya Taylor said:

“Teaching recycling to primary-age children can be challenging, so our programme uses a simple example to make the concept easier to understand. As well as valuable life lessons on reducing waste, the kids are being introduced to the basics of the circular economy in a fun and engaging way, with a real outcome they can hold in their hands. The scheme is one of many initiatives underpinning Willoughby’s aspiration to be a green city, and we’re only too happy to share the lesson plans with other local authorities who might be interested in running a similar scheme.”

Principal of Our Lady of Dolours Chatswood Mr Marco Ianni said:

“Students at Our Lady of Dolours enjoyed a great presentation from Defy and having the opportunity to see how the recycling process can produce something meaningful and for real life need. What a great initiative from Willougby City Council with the support of the teachers at OLD. The lessons provided an opportunity to learn and then see this in action.” 

Notes to editors

  1. The ‘circular economy’ is a model of resource production and consumption in any economy that involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing, and recycling existing materials and products for as long as possible. The concept aims to tackle global challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss, waste, and pollution.
  2. The Plastic Recycling educational program ran at two primary schools during term 1 in 2024:
    • At Our Lady of Dolours primary school, the programme was delivered to 100 students at Stage 2, Years 3 and 4
    • At Castle Cove primary school the programme was delivered to 45 students from Year 3
  3. Teachers ran 3-4 classes at each school covering:
    • The plastic waste problem
    • How plastic affects the environment
    • The waste hierarchy (Refuse; reduce; reuse; repair)
    • Plastic recycling and circular economy
  4. Each child collected suitable plastic from their home, which they took into school to be collected by Defy Design, who turned it into a ruler.
  5. 35g of recycled plastic was required to make each ruler, which is approximately 2 – 3 plastic milk bottles
  6. Defy Design then visited each school as an incursion where they demonstrated the steps required to turn a used plastic item into a ruler
  7. Following the success of the program, Our Lady of Dolours has implemented a ‘Waste Free Wednesdays’ scheme at the school

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