Recycling outside the bin Part 1

Recycling technology has come a long way. Still, not everything is recyclable, so we look for other ways to reuse the materials.

Today we take a look at recycling outside of the bin.

Many of us have become accustomed to recycling over the years. As more materials become recyclable the bins have gotten bigger. But we still have some things that may not be recyclable in a certain area, or recyclable at all.

Janine Zoellner, a teacher’s aid at Walkerton Elementary, oversees the student recycling program. She’s an avid recycler, and has found some creative ways to recycle things that might normally end up in the trash, and turn them into something every child at the school can use.

One example is a program that allows the school to recycle caps various types of plastic bottles and jugs and turn them into benches.

The school partnered with an Evansville, Indiana company called Green Tree Plastics. The program is called “A Bench For Caps.” It takes 400 pounds of caps to make one bench.

Janine tells us they can recycle many types of caps. “They will take water bottles and the soft drinks, but also like cream cheese lids, peanut butter jar lids, laundry detergent caps, any of those.”

They collected the caps at the school, took them down to the company in Evansville, and in turn got a great deal on benches made of these recycled plastics. Throughout the course of the school year they collected enough caps for 6 benches.

If you do the math, that’s 2,400 pounds of plastic caps!

One of Janine’s student recyclers, Cali Geers, reflects on when they first saw the benches.

“It was really cool, just cause we did that work, and sorted them out. And there was a lot of stuff that didn’t belong in the caps that was there that we had to sort out, so it was cool to see them when they were finished.”

“Everyone is very pleased,” says Janine. “They were surprised when they saw them how big and long and sturdy they were. We have a couple of them outside and they’ll be completely weather proof. No maintenance required, no painting or sanding, or worrying about the snow or rain.”

Janine, being the avid recycler that she is, may be even more pleased with what the students have learned in the process.

“I think it really makes them aware of the amount of trash we waste and that I hope that it will get them to recycle at home, and just raises their awareness of what they can be doing. I know a lot of them go home and start recycling at home if they don’t already, and that’s what I really want to see.”


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