Recycling competition reduces litter at Canberra High School 

Students at Canberra High School are learning how to make the world a more sustainable place, starting with their own backyard. 

A student-led action team called the ‘Green Team’ set their own sustainability goals and currently have lots of projects on the boil at the school, says teacher Benjamin Crossman. 

Part of the students’ environmental activities includes organising the collection of empty bottles and cans to deposit with the ACT Container Deposit Scheme. This gives a 10c refund per drink container, which goes back into the school, including helping to fund the Year 10 formal. 

‘The collection drive is student-led, and the Green Team spends considerable effort promoting it through videos and presentations at assemblies,’ says Ben.  

Members of the P&C take the containers to the local Return-It return points. So far 38,000 containers have been recycled, earning the school nearly $4,000. 

Collections have been made easier by a recent overhaul of the entire bin system for the playground. “Previous to our efforts, it just consisted of a single bin into which all streams of waste were thrown,” says Ben. 

The current system includes recycling bins colour-coded for each of the school houses, so the students can compete to see which house recycles the most.  

“The kids responded really well to the house bins idea, and enthusiastically recycle their 10c drink containers,” says Ben. “We’ve noticed a big decrease in the amount of bottles and cans in the playground, and in the other bins.”  

Ben adds that students learn about sustainability and recycling in the classroom too.  

“They learn what happens to waste that is left on the ground through a walk around the school grounds and down to the stormwater catchment drain and filter adjacent to the school, where waste visibly collects after rain,” he says.  

“Students also audit the waste on the school grounds to find problem areas and types of litter, and they put what they learn into the design of a fictional theme park as part of their assessment.”  

Ben says the next step at the school will be to look at how to reduce green waste.  

“Through our waste audits we have found that a considerable percentage of what gets thrown out is banana peels, apple cores, sandwiches and that sort of thing,” he says. “The students also have ideas around soft plastic collection as a waste stream.” 

Interested in fundraising through the ACT CDS like Canberra High School? Find out more on our Fundraising page.

The ACT CDS is a partnership between the ACT Government, scheme coordinator Exchange for Change and network operator Return-It.