The EU has recently approved tough new measures to slash the use of plastic bags. New targets will force each country to reduce plastic bag use by 80% before 2019.
In this activity students examine degradable plastic bags as a possible alternative to ordinary plastic bags. They choose questions to ask experts, and come to a reasoned decision in answer to the dilemma question: will degradable plastic bags solve the problems caused by ordinary plastic bags?
In this lesson students will decide whether to replace ordinary polythene bags with degradable bags using:
- Materials: properties of polymers
- Science in society: evaluate the merits of a solution to a real-world problem
Try the activity
Please note: A new version of the presentation was uploaded 15 June 2015.
England National Curriculum KS3:
- Working Scientifically: Analysis and evaluation: Present reasoned explanations
- Chemistry: Materials: Properties of polymers
GCSE Combined Science subject content:
- Working Scientifically: Development of scientific thinking: explain everyday and technological applications of science; evaluate associated personal, social, economic and environmental implications; and make decision based on the evaluation of evidence and arguments
- Chemistry: Chemical bonding: describe and compare the nature and arrangement of chemical bonds in..polymers…
Running the activity
Starter The EU has imposed limits on plastic bag use. Will degradable plastic bags solve the problems caused by ordinary plastic bags?
Main Students are reminded about the structure of polythene, and its properties. They choose questions to ask experts to solve the dilemma question
Plenary Students reflect on the decision and peer-assess each others’ responses
For detailed running notes, download the teachers guide.
The EU demands for a reduction in plastic bag use.
Are they better for the environment? This article is accessible to students.
This article is about research on biodegradable plastic bags.
Very long and detailed report of research literature on degradable bags, for teacher reference.