Burlington County encourages school and community groups to participate in recycling challenge

The Burlington County Health Department and Department of Resource Conservation are taking part in the Trex Plastic Film Recycling Challenge. Pictured is a bin the departments are using to collect plastic grocery and shopping bags, bread bags, dry cleaning bags, ice bags, newspapers sleeves, produce bags, bubble wrap and plastic shipping envelopes.

Burlington County is partnering with the Trex Company to make it easier for local schools and community groups to recycle plastic film products.

Schools and community groups collecting plastic bags and film as part of Trex Plastic Film Recycling Challenge can now use Burlington County’s Robert C. Shinn Jr. Recycling Center in Westampton as a convenient drop-off location, according to a press release through Burlington County.

Trex manufactures composite decking and railing from recycled plastics it upcycles from household items such as grocery/shopping bags, sandwich bags, newspaper sleeves, and shipping package materials. To capture more bags and film, Trex sponsors two annual challenge programs, an annual recycling competition for schools, and one for community groups. Community groups earn a free Trex bench if they collect more than 500 pounds of plastics within six months, according to the press release.

To help with the program’s success, the County has created a central delivery drop point at the County Recycling Center for the Challenge Program groups and schools to bring all the plastic bags and film they collect. The Burlington County Health Department and Department of Resource Conservation have also joined this green initiative by taking part in the Trex Challenge.

“Recycling plastic bags and film keeps those materials out of our landfill, so the more we can do to encourage people to save and recycle, the better off we will all be, and designating our County Recycling Center as a Trex drop-off location makes it easy for our county schools and groups to participate,” said Burlington County Commissioner Deputy Director Tom Pullion, the liaison to the Department of Solid Waste and Recycling. “These contests also help get people engaged in recycling and thinking about what materials are safe to be placed in their recycling containers versus what they should save for special collections like these.”

“Recycling is important to protecting our environment and our County is committed to making it as easy as possible for residents to recycle correctly,” added Burlington County Commissioner Allison Eckel, the liaison to the Department of Resource Conservation. “New Jersey may have banned plastic bags from stores, but we know there are other film plastics still in use and gathering in homes, and the Trex Challenge is a great way to get them out of our waste stream.”

Plastic film materials such as plastic grocery and shopping bags, bread bags, dry cleaning bags, ice bags, newspapers sleeves, produce bags, bubble wrap and plastic shipping envelopes should not be placed in Burlington County recycling containers. These materials must be kept out of the curbside recycling stream, or they can damage the mechanical equipment used in the County’s recycling process, according to the press release.

“That’s one reason why we’re hoping more schools and groups will get involved and take advantage of this program,” Pullion said.

Schools and community groups interested in participating in the Trex competition and challenges can sign up online at https://nextrex.com/view/programs#challenge1.

The school challenge runs through April 2023. Community groups can select any six-month time period for the challenge.

Challenge schools and groups should email recycle@co.burlington.nj.us when they wish to make a delivery to the Recycling Center.

Burlington County is a state leader in recycling and one of the only New Jersey counties to collect recycling from all its municipalities at no charge to either towns or residents, according to the press release.

Last year, close to 44,000 tons of recyclables were collected from Burlington County residents, saving their towns more than $3.8 million in landfill tipping fees.

More information about recycling is available on the County’s free Recycle Coach app. The app can be downloaded from iTunes or the GooglePlay app store and has information about what materials are accepted and updates and alerts about collection schedules for each town, plus advice and tips for recycling right.

“Burlington County has been a state leader in recycling for decades and we continue to look for ways to make recycling easy and convenient for our residents,” Pullion said. “It’s good for our environment. Plus, the more household items we can recycle, the more we can help our towns keep their solid waste costs low, which benefits all taxpayers.”

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