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  • In 2017, Lower Hutt business Flight Plastics opened New Zealand’s first PET plastic wash and recycling plant. Flight Plastics turns the recycled plastic into RPET flakes and uses the flakes to make new food-grade packaging.

    In this activity, students use Hub resources to design and operate their own PET plastic wash and recycling plant, loosely based on the Flight Plastics process.

    By the end of this activity, students should be able to:

    • use written and visual resources to gain information about the plastic recycling process
    • discuss some of the steps involved in processing/recycling a PET plastic item
    • place the steps in the order they are likely to happen
    • design a model of the recycling process using familiar, everyday materials
    • discuss how the model represents the actual steps in the recycling process
    • consider how recycling fits into the use and reuse of plastics.

    Download the Word file (see link below) for:

    • background information for teachers
    • equipment list
    • teacher instructions
    • student instructions.

    Nature of science

    Hands-on experiences, like the model recycling process in this activity, support the Investigating in science strand. Engaging students in a wide variety of investigative processes helps to debunk the myth of there being one ‘scientific method’.


    Flight Plastics has a long history in producing plastic packaging, with over 40 years in the plastics industry. The company is New Zealand owned and is committed to constant investment in new technologies and its highly skilled people.

    During the 1970s, Flight Plastics pioneered local production of PET by being the first company in Australasia to produce PET rollstock and thermoformed plastic containers. Now Flight is the first company producing eco-friendly RPET rollstock and finished containers all under one roof.

    The Science Learning Hub acknowledges the collaboration with Flight Plastics in the production of this article.

      Published 30 October 2017 Referencing Hub articles
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