ReMA Recycling Collection | Grades K-12    >   Community Challenge - Design for Recycling®

Challenge Statement: Design for Recycling®

In this article, you will be introduced to the challenge and the challenge guidelines.

Article Title:

Challenge Statement: Design for Recycling®


Students are introduced to the Challenge and its requirements. 

Target Grade Level: 

Grades K - 12

Discipline or Course (Audience): 

Science, Math, Social Studies, ELA, CTE

Time Frame: 

Introducing the Resource: 30 - 45 minutes

Using the Resource: Varying time frames throughout the challenge as students revisit the Challenge Statement.

Suggested Grouping: 

Whole class

Key Vocabulary:

sustainable, Design for Recycling®

Educator Prep: 


Once you have selected and prepared for a challenge, it is time to launch the challenge with your students. The challenge includes a Challenge Statement video, in which the Challenge Champion establishes the context. 


Following the Challenge Statement video is an Introduction section, where the challenge is briefly summarized for the students. This section also begins to explore the significance of the issue so as to convince students that this problem deserves their attention. 

Your Challenge

The final piece of the Launch is Your Challenge itself. This document outlines the challenge and describes the areas that should be addressed by the students’ solutions. While the students are encouraged to be innovative in their solutions, there are requirements that they will need to meet. 


As you introduce the challenge to your students, it is important to allow them to brainstorm along the way. They might be thinking about issues they find important or possible solutions, or about the final pitch, and questions they have or things they will need to know along the way. As such, they might need help organizing their thoughts, and brainstorming as a class or small group can help them do this. One strategy is to ask them to discuss things they noticed in the video and challenge statement. Another strategy is to have them discuss things they still wonder about. If students have already been organized into groups, you can have them record their brainstorming somewhere that will be accessible for all group members; if you are brainstorming as a class, you might consider recording ideas on a poster board or bulletin board so the class can refer back to their original thoughts later. These thoughts can include words, pictures, or anything else the students come up with during their brainstorming session. 

Group Norms and Expectations

After teams have been formed, it is also important for members to discuss norms and expectations for their team in order to develop accountability. This can be done during the brainstorming session or after, but it is important to have teams set their expectations early in the process so that they can be referred back to as the challenge progresses.




Humans depend on a healthy and thriving planet. Earth is our home. Everything we breathe, eat, make, and use traces back to Earth’s resources. A sustainable planet cannot exist without intentionally designing products that have minimal or no negative impact on the health of the environment and the organisms that live there.

You might be familiar with the lifecycle of a butterfly or a frog, but did you know that the products we use in our everyday lives also have lifecycles? Let's consider the lifecycle of a plastic milk jug. An engineer designed the milk jug in a way that it could easily be carried around, would contain exactly 1 gallon of milk, could be used to store and pour milk, would fit on a refrigerator shelf, and would be made of plastic. This designer may not have considered using recycled plastic as a source material or collecting bottles after customer use to put the plastic back into the supply chain where it could become, for example, reusable shopping bags.

A better approach is a proactive way of thinking called Design for Recycling®. According to ReMA, “Designing with recycling in mind means recognizing that a product’s usefulness does not end because the original intent for the product has run its course. By designing with this methodology, manufacturers use recycling and repurposing to plan out the product’s new lifecycle, which reduces waste and reliance on natural resources.”

Design for Recycling® can result in the creation of improved and new products that provide both short-term and long-term health, environmental, and economic benefits. Let’s get started with this challenge! The Earth is counting on you!

Your Challenge:

Your challenge is to improve an existing consumer product using Design for Recycling® principles. 


Your improved product should be designed to:

  • Ensure customer satisfaction.
  • Maximize the use of renewable materials for the product and its packaging.
  • Incorporate recycling across the product’s lifecycle.
  • Minimize the environmental impact across the product’s lifecycle.