Day 4: What is Plastic? How are Plastic Containers made?

Day 4: What is Plastic? How are Plastic Containers Made?

1) Video: Please share this 3min video with your students, which shows how plastic bottles are made.

Activity Suggestion: Give students the sheet with the different recycling symbols. Please ask students to bring in some plastic packaging material from home, so everybody can look and touch the different types of plastics. Ask your students to find the little recycling triangle on the different containers.


Recap: Plastic is made out of plastic pallets, molten and injected into molds to create all kinds of shapes. Only 10% recycled plastic content is possible. All the rest is virgin material. Different types of plastics have different capabilities. A simple “Squeezy” test is fun to do with the children, to feel their difference.

2) Math: The machine in the video can make 10,600 bottles per hour. How many is that per 24 hrs day? U.S. consumers buy 1,500 water bottles per second. What other kind of bottles and plastic containers can you think of?  Can you imagine how many of these other containers are being produced every hour?

3) ELA:  List positive and negative attributes of plastics

Examples :
Positive: cheap, colorful, can be shaped easily, versatile, water tight, air tight, light weight,

Negative: uses oil for production, can only use 10% recycled material, leaches chemicals into food and drink, does not bio-degrade (ever) only “photo degrades“, which means it  breaks down into smaller plastic pieces that are everywhere and get into the food chain.

4) Social Studies: How many things do you own that are made of plastic? List some foods you know come in plastic. What do you see mostly as litter on the side of the street?

This video is 2:50min long and shows how the Material Recovery Facility sorts commingled materials.

The following video should be shown with discretion, and probably only to students in grades 4 and 5.  It shows birds that live on an island in the Pacific, 2,000 miles away from humans, but the island is contaminated with plastic pollution that the birds ingest.  It is just a suggestion, please watch and use as you wish. (3:41 min long).

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