Last week, Rémi Duracher, Charity Partnerships Manager for TOMRA and his team hosted children from C&K Corbett Street Community Kindergarten at TOMRA’s recycling centre on Montague Road.

The children, donning high viz and protective glasses, learned about what items can be recycled, how the recycling work.

When asked why we should recycle plastics, the children talked about protecting animals, especially turtles. And the best fun was the machines, of course.

Children in high viz are pictured placing a bottle into a recylcing machine at TOMRA in West End

TOMRA partners with schools, sports clubs, community groups, and charities to encourage them to participate in the scheme, raise funds for their cause, and engage with the community.

Remi said that COVID stopped site visits for some time, but the schools and kindergartens now want to get some practical experience about what recycling means and what happens to drink containers when we recycle them.

The children learned about recycling plastic, glass and aluminium. One of the surprising things I learned over the morning is that TOMRA in West End recycles 30,000 bottles daily, and across Queensland, three to four million bottles are recycled each day. Without recycling, many of these items would have ended up polluting our environment or would be placed in landfill.

Child dressed in floopy hat and yellow high viz top hots up a plastic bottle.

Remi said the site visits are a way of extending the children’s conversations about recycling.

“They usually continue conversations in classrooms. And the beauty of the initiative is that it teaches the kids not only about the different material types that you can recycle, but also about mathematics, because they can count how much pocket money they can make, and also a little bit of project management and science. There’s so much packed in behind the initiative. It’s fascinating, ” Remi said.

Carly Clark Karen, the director and teacher at C&K Corbett Street Community Kindergarten, said they believe in hands-on learning and having the ability to go out into the community to experience things first-hand.

“Learning what happens behind the scenes helps develop an understanding and awareness in children that they can carry on for life. And for us, recycling is one of the very many important things that we do as part of our sustainability program.”

Children at back are looking towards a container of plastic bottles

Carly said the kindergarten prepares for the experience from the beginning of the year by introducing concepts around recycling and why it is so important.

“And then when we go back at the end of the tour the children often will use this opportunity to simulate the experience into their play. For instance, we have a manual conveyor belt that they were using after our last visit and there’s a lot of incidental learning as well around mathematics.”

“We have science week coming up, and there’s a lot of things that tie into our visit here today and extend children’s learning.”

And yes, Carly said, the Kindy does recycle.

“Absolutely. We’ve got hard plastic, soft plastic, and recyclable bottles. We’ve got lots of things happening around sustainability, including a worm farm.”

a large crate full of empty plastic bottles

Derek, who brought his daughter along for the tour, said the children already know more about recycling than many grownups do.

“I think here, they’re actually getting the second stage – they’re getting a bit of a deep dive. Because we’re not really trying to change these kids’ minds. I think it’s probably more for the parents. And I think it’s really important that these kids go home and talk to their friends and their parents about it.”

“We all need to do better, and this will help us do that.”

If your school or club is interested in doing a tour, contact TOMRA via their website here.


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All images by Jan Bowman