Writing task 1: Recycling aluminium process diagram

ielts process diagramModel answer for a process diagram on recycling drinks cans.

Process diagrams are some of the easiest tasks in IELTS Academic writing task 1 as you are logically explaining a process using sequencers and passive grammar. The data is obviously static so there are no trends to report on, it is pretty straightforward with enough practice.

Key Points:

  • Aim for under 190 words and be concise. It must be easy to follow and make sense. 160 to 180 words is enough.
  • Analyse the task first, give yourself two minutes, check how many stages there are and what each stage consists of, underline keywords and circle key steps in the process. Make notes in this stage
  • Plan your answer and what you will write in each main body paragraph. Group the information.
  • You need to paraphrase the task for an introduction and include an overview covering key stages.
  • The overview summarises the stages. Leave the details to the body paragraphs.

Common Structure for Writing Task 1

  • Introduction

  • Overview

  • Main body one

  • Main body two

In writing task 1 academic you can have a third main body paragraph but I prefer two main body paragraphs to keep it simple. If your introduction is very short you can combine the overview with that to form one paragraph, as in my model answer below.

No conclusion is needed, do not write your opinion either, write factually and logically. It must be easy to read too so don’t try to impress the examiner with complicated language.

The Task


IELTS recycling aluminium diagram

Model Answer

The diagram illustrates the steps involved in how aluminium drinks cans are recycled. Overall there are three stages in the process, from the cans being sorted and collected at the collection centre, to the melting down of the cans at the recycling plant forming new aluminium, to new cans being put back into drinks machines.

In the collection centre, drinks cans are put into a recycling bin and then separated into aluminium and steel. Following this, the sorted cans are transported to the recycling centre where they are crushed into cubes ready for melting down. Regarding the recycling process itself, the cubes of old aluminium are melted down at high temperatures and turned into bars of new aluminium.

As soon as the new aluminium bars are ready, they are then made into thin sheets and rolled up. Next, the rolled-up aluminium is used to make new drinks cans. Once the cans are formed, they are ready to be distributed to drinks machines where the process is repeated.

168 words

Click below for an Analysis


You will notice that I have combined the introduction and the overview. This is because the introduction was very short, so it was more logical to connect the overview to that. If you have a longer introduction and a longer overview then you would need to skip a line between them.

The overview just summarises the stages, in this case, 3 stages.  Collection, recycling and back to drinks machines. I used 2 body paragraphs to make it easier for the reader.

The passive is used in task 1 writing such as:

  • ‘drinks cans are put into a recycling bin…’
  • ‘cans are transported to the recycling centre….’
  • ‘they are then made into thin sheets and rolled up’

For a lesson about the passive Click this link here on Milk Production

For more detail, click here for the rules around using active and passive grammar

You must use sequencers in process diagrams such as: ‘ To begin with, following this, next, after that, in the next stage, finally’

You can also use specific phrases with the passive such as:  As soon as and Once.. see examples below:

  • As soon as the new aluminium bars are ready, they are then made into thin sheets and rolled up’
  • Once the cans are formed, they are ready to be distributed to drinks machines where the process is repeated’


Leave a comment below if you have any questions.

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