To tackle the serious problems caused by plastic wastes, it is critical to develop new plastic recycling beliefs and behavior, together with recycling skills (4 important steps of recycling: cleanliness, separation, compression, and sorting) of the plastic wastes in environmental education (EE). The study revealed the effectiveness of a plastic waste recycling program adopting an action competence approach with educational interventions using a new plastic waste recycling bin (PRB). The PRB allows further classification of plastic waste types. Seven primary schools in Hong Kong participated in the program. A total of 313 questionnaires which assessed pupils’ classification knowledge, behaviours of plastic waste recycling, and their pro-environmental attitudes in terms of New Environmental Paradigm were received. Semi-structured interview with 27 pupils from the schools were also conducted. Recycling performance (actual behaviour) of using the brown bins (general plastic recycling bin) and the PRBs in the schools was assessed as the evidence of action competence in plastic waste recycling. Comparing the schools which adopted programmes with a combination of two types of recycling bins (brown bin vs. PRB) and interventions (Poster vs. half/full training courses to teach the recycling knowledge and skill), both quantitative and qualitative results showed that learners of the program enhanced their recycling knowledge (K), attitudes (A), and behaviour (B) concerning plastic waste recycling. The recycling performance proved that there is a statistically significant change in the recycling steps, separation and compression. The study provides insights for environmental educators to develop strategic solutions to ease environmental issues as well as putting these actions into practice in schools. Copyright © 2019 Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd.