Return-It Blog

Return-It & Ocean Wise Collaborate with BC Schools to Close the Loop on Plastic

This fall, Return-It and Ocean Wise have teamed up to bring global plastic waste and ocean conservation education to secondary schools across BC.

Closing the Loop on Plastics is a program designed to generate conversation, research, and action amongst B.C.’s youth. This six-week educational program is designed to empower future change leaders to join the dialogue around plastic waste and recovery, ultimately creating a future of zero waste.

The partnership between the two organizations is a natural fit. Ocean Wise is a leading not-for-profit organization whose mandate is a world in which the oceans are healthy and flourishing. Return-It is committed to fostering a world where nothing is waste and has successfully diverted more than 20 billion beverage containers from our landfills, oceans and waterways. In 2019 alone, Return-It diverted over 380 million plastic beverage containers from landfills and oceans.

“We have been leading the province’s beverage container management program for over 25 years and focused on being on the forefront of providing innovative solutions. This includes educating and empowering our leaders of tomorrow to take environmental action,” said Allen Langdon, President & CEO of Return-It. “It is important that we continue to have these essential conversations and work together to ensure plastic waste recovery is top of mind.”

Over the last 20 years, Return-It’s School Programs have educated and provided resources to more than 2 million elementary, middle, and high school students in B.C. on the importance of recycling, diverting plastic waste, and protecting our natural environment.

“Continuing to empower our next generation of leaders to explore long term solutions in the plastic waste life cycle is vital for ocean health,” shared Ocean Wise president and CEO, Lasse Gustavsson. “We were happy to partner with Return-It to deliver this important program virtually to help address plastic waste.”

Each week, students connect with leading industry experts and mentors to explore a different aspect of environmental challenges, which includes plastics. Assignments include a personal waste audit and plastic re-design. The curriculum will challenge students to explore daily consumption habits while innovating solutions to enact change in their local schools, communities, and cities. The virtual classroom allows students to connect directly with industry mentors, publish findings, and access multimedia resources remotely.

“We teachers are really enjoying working with Ocean Wise and Return It. It is refreshing to have access to ideas and information from people who work in the field of recycling, and other experts. It can be challenging as a teacher, especially during COVID with the restrictions on field trips, to bring the material alive and relevant.  Closing the Loop on Plastics helps us connect the students with real-world problems and real-world solutions,” shared Amanda Cantelon, Head Teacher, Spectrum Learning Centre.

Grade 8 Tupper Secondary School students share some of their early learnings from the program, “We think there are feasible solutions Canada can make towards reducing plastics. We can recycle plastic more often, stop littering, reuse plastic bags and containers and reduce the number of plastics we use, like lids for take-out beverages. Moving forward, Canadians should be making choices that reduce plastic use to protect the health of our environment.”

Closing the Loop on Plastics runs in secondary classrooms across the province from October through December 2020.

About Ocean Wise®

Ocean Wise Conservation Association is a globally-focused conservation organization on a mission to protect and restore the world’s oceans. Focused on education, research, and direct-action conservation, Ocean Wise equips and inspires youth, citizens, businesses, and governments to take action through initiatives like Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, Ocean Wise Seafood Program, Marine Mammal Rescue, and Be Plastic Wise. Ocean Wise was born out of the Vancouver Aquarium’s 60-year commitment to marine ecosystems. Learn more at

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