Tennessee Solid Waste Education Project

Solid Waste Management Curriculum Framework

by the Waste Management Research and Education Institute University of Tennessee, Knoxville June, 1995

This curriculum framework is based on two existing frameworks: (1) the National Environmental Education Standards created by the North American Association for Environmental Education and (2) the Goals for Curriculum Development in Environmental Education by Hungerford, Peyton, and Wilke, published in the Journal of Environmental Education. The latter is a research-based framework. The former framework will become the basis of many environmental education curriculum, assessment, texts, programs etc. for the next decade. Both frameworks will shape environmental education for decades to come.

  1. North American Association for Environmental Education
    1. Effect
    2. Ecological Foundations Knowledge
    3. Socio-Political Foundations Knowledge
    4. Knowledge of Environmental Issues
    5. Skills
    6. Additional Determinants of Environmentally Responsible Behavior
    7. Environmentally Responsible Behaviors
  2. Hungerford, Peyton, and Wilke
    1. Ecological Foundations and Socio-Political Foundations
    2. Conceptual Awareness Level
    3. Investigations and Evaluation Level
    4. Issue Resolution Skill Level

There are a few general statements relative to the curriculum's purpose that we did not include in the framework. Some of these points are:

  • Understand the need for environmental issue investigation and evaluation as pre-requisite to sound decision making.
  • Understand the need for responsible citizenship action in the prevention and solution of environmental issues.
  • Understand the need for data collection and environmental issue investigation and evaluation as a prerequisite to sound decision making.
  • It is assumed that the teachers will help the students understand the importance of the skills in relationship to the remainder of the framework.
  • This framework does not include concepts which are taught in the K - 12
  • frameworks of other disciplines. Other frameworks provide concepts which are foundational and central to this framework. For example, the Science framework teaches the difference between renewable and non-renewable resources. The health curriculum teaches the importance and consequences of individual decision making. It is redundant to include these concepts in another framework.

Goal: To develop environmentally literate citizens who are knowledgeable about solid waste management problem, issues, and solutions, and who exhibit environmentally responsible behavior.

The Tennessee solid waste management education program should include the following components:

A. Science and Social Science Foundations

This section seeks to provide the learner with a sufficient knowledge-base in the natural and social sciences and solid waste management that s/he can eventually make sound decisions with respect to solid waste management issues.

  1. Primer on solid waste
    1. Definitions and terminology
    2. Components of solid waste by volume and weight
    3. Household hazardous waste (toxic, flammable, reactive, or corrosive)
    4. Historic methods of solid waste management
    5. Importance of solid waste management
  2. Government involvement in solid waste
    1. Federal, state, and local agencies regulate and manage solid waste
    2. Public/private involvement
  3. Economics of solid waste management
    1. Expense to government
    2. Markets for recycling
    3. Bidding processes for solid waste collection and landfill management
  4. EPA hierarchy of waste management (Good solid waste management requires integration of all the methods in the EPA hierarchy of solid waste management)
    1. Source Reduction
      1. Methods of source reduction used in the U.S. and in your community (e.g., reduce waste in manufacturing, design purchase of minimal packaging)
      2. Advantages and disadvantages of source reduction
      3. Problems related to source reduction technology
    2. Reuse
      1. Methods of reuse commonly used in U.S. and in your community
      2. Advantages / disadvantages
      3. Problems related to reuse technology
    3. Recycle
      1. Methods of recycling available in U.S. and in your community
      2. Advantages / disadvantages
      3. Problems related to by recycling technology (e.g., disposal of byproducts such as sludge from de-inking newsprint)
    4. Composting (part of recycling)
      1. Methods of composting commonly used in U.S. and in your community
      2. Advantages / disadvantages
      3. Problems related to composting technology and practice
    5. Incineration with energy recovery
      1. Methods of incineration available in U.S. and in your community
      2. Advantages / disadvantages
      3. Problems related to waste-to-energy incineration technology
    6. Landfilling with methane recovery
      1. Methods of landfilling available in U.S. and in your community
      2. Advantages / disadvantages
      3. Problems related to landfilling with energy capture technology
  5. International perspectives on solid waste management
    1. Comparison of waste generation in other countries
    2. Approaches to solid waste management in other countries
B. Current status of solid waste management in Tennessee and your community
  1. Solid Waste Management Act of 1991
  2. Case studies of solid waste in East, Middle, and West Tennessee
  3. Success stories from Tennessee
  4. Challenges of rural and urban solid waste management
  5. Specifics of solid waste management in your community
    1. What items can be reused in your community?(example: soda bottles, milk jugs)
    2. Where can you recycle?
    3. What materials can you recycle?
    4. Can business or industry recycle large quantities of materials? Can business/industry recycle other things that you cannot?
    5. Does your community have a landfill? An incinerator?
    6. Do the practices in your community differ from those in other communities?
    7. What does it cost your local government annually for solid waste management?
C. Conceptual Awareness Level

This section seeks to guide the conceptual awareness of how individuals and groups in society may hold different opinions on solid waste issues. (This section needs to be tied to the themes of responsibility and citizenship found in the social studies and health frameworks.)

  1. Human and cultural activities (e.g., social, political, economic) influence the natural environment.
    1. Define ways in which societal activities and individual activities impact the environment.
    2. Identify environmental issues stemming from solid waste.
    3. Understand how differing beliefs and values play a role in community decision-making and resolution of environmental issues, especially solid waste management.
    4. Conceptualize solutions for improving solid waste management.
    5. Identify values which underlie the above solutions.
    6. Understand the need for responsible citizenship action. (Tie to health curriculum.)
D. Knowledge of Solid Waste Issues, Ability to Analyze Issues, and Other Skills

This section seeks to build skills related to analyzing environmental issues in the local community and to understanding the various viewpoints of key people and groups. The section also strives to build skills so that students can comply successfully with recycling guidelines of their community.

  1. Distinguish between solid waste problems and solid waste issues.
    1. What is the solid waste problem in your community?
    2. Is there a solid waste issue in your community?
  2. Identify players in a solid waste issue.
  3. Identify positions, key concepts, and motivation of players in a solid waste issue.
  4. Develop skills, such as sorting materials for recycling that are appropriate for your community.
E. Solid Waste Issues Investigation

This section seeks to teach students how to do primary and secondary research on solid waste management issues. The research will become part of the knowledge-base on which they base future decision-making related to solid waste management.

  1. List potential research topics in your community (e.g., How much and what kinds of waste does our school produce in one day? Do most people in the community support our waste disposal and recycling programs? Are people aware that their purchasing decisions affect the amount of solid waste generated locally?).
  2. Create a research question.
  3. Conduct primary and secondary research.
  4. Report on the findings.
F. Community Participation

This section seeks to develop the skills necessary for students to take positive action to improve solid waste management in your community on a personal or broader level. In addition, the participation component will help students accept the responsibility of adult citizenry in their community.

  1. Identify potential actions (e.g., persuasion, consumer choices, ecomanagement) to improve solid waste management in the community related to your research findings.
  2. Write several action plans.
  3. Evaluate action plans.
  4. Implement plans.
  5. Evaluate success of plans.


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