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Among the baled plastic, paper and cardboard, or behind the stockpiles of glass, 22 pupils from East Otago High School looked for inspiration at the Waitaki Resource Recovery Park yesterday.
The year 9 pupils from the Palmerston high school were in Oamaru as part of a term-long, multi-subject project on sustainability.
East Otago High School science and maths teacher Joshua Bird said the pupils would next be tasked to develop a process that could help to ease the growing waste problem in New Zealand.
''It was so amazing how much rubbish there was in just one day - and most of it was plastic,'' Sarah said.
The visit to the recovery park was ''real cool'' - but she was surprised to see the amount of glass the resource recovery park collected. And she had not appreciated the work that went into sorting plastics into the appropriate categories for it to be recycled.
Abigail Paton (13), of Dunback, said she too was ''astonished'' by the amount of waste the pupils had collected.
Her family, though ''not real hardcore greenies'', did recycle, and the visit to the recovery park had encouraged her to believe there was hope.
''Each person doing their job makes a difference,'' Abigail said.
''If everyone did their job properly, then it would be 100% better.
''The world could be a better place. If everyone just did that bit more to recycle, clean their bottles, it would be a better place.''
Shayla Raharaha-Baird (13), of Karitane, yesterday learned how in places plastic had been used to make ''bricks'' used for housing; she learned that a plastic bag could take 1000 years to decompose.
She had seen too much rubbish from takeaways by the side of the road, but the visit to the resource recovery park was a reminder that she too could aspire to be better.
''I buy a lot of unnecessary stuff,'' Shayla said.