January 10, 2020
The Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority (Authority) sponsored its fourth annual Plastic Film Recycling Challenge for local schools in an effort to promote and educate youth and the community on proper recycling of plastic grocery bags and other plastic film, which cannot be recycled through regular curbside recycling programs.
In 2009, New York State’s Plastic Bag Reduction, Reuse and Recycling Act went into effect. On March 1, 2020, an amendment goes into effect that states stores with 10,000 square feet or more of retail space and chains which operate five or more stores with greater than 5,000 square feet of retail space, and provide uncontaminated non-rigid film plastic packaging products, which include but are not limited to, newspaper bags, dry cleaning bags and shrink wrap, are required to establish an in-store film plastic recycling program and ensure that collected film plastics are recycled.
In addition, a state-wide law takes effect on March 1, 2020, that prohibits the distribution of plastic carryout bags by retailers in New York state. In other words, retailers in New York State will no longer be able to provide plastic carryout bags, however they will still be required to accept plastic film for recycling.
Each year, it is estimated that New York uses 23 billion plastic bags, with 50% of those plastic bags ending up in the garbage or littered. Because curbside recycling programs do not accept plastic film for recycling, the Authority’s goal for this Challenge is to not only increase student awareness and involvement but encourage the community to take action and save plastic film to be delivered to local grocery stores for proper recycling.
“When residents place plastic film in their recycling bin, it contaminates acceptable recyclables and causes mechanical problems at the Recycling Center,” stated Authority Recycling Educator Jamie Tuttle. “We encourage residents to utilize the plastic film recycling programs provided by retailers across the region,” she continued.
Fourteen schools participated in the 2019 Plastic Film Recycling Challenge and had five weeks to collect plastic film for recycling. Participating schools partnered with local grocery/retail stores and delivered the plastic film directly to them for proper recycling. The initiative focused on collecting clean, dry, plastic film to keep it out of our region’s landfill.
With the efforts of these schools combined, over 5,000 pounds of plastic film was collected for recycling in 5 weeks – that is the equivalent of recycling over 350,000 plastic grocery bags.
Below are the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place schools in each category.
1st Place: Sauquoit Valley Elementary School With 360 students, Sauquoit Valley Elementary School collected an ASTONISHING 1,508.4 pounds of plastic film for recycling. This equals 4.2 pounds per student. THEY HAVE BROKEN THE RECORD FOR THE HIGHEST WEIGHT OF PLASTIC FILM COLLECTED THROUGH THESE CHALLENGES TO DATE!
2nd Place: Rome Catholic School With 175 students, Rome Catholic collected 412.5 pounds of plastic film for recycling. This equals 2.36 pounds per student.
3rd Place: E. R. Hughes Elementary School (New Hartford CSD) With 493 students, Hughes Elementary School collected 805 pounds of plastic film for recycling. This equals 1.63 pounds per student.
Thank you to Boonville Elementary School, John Joy Elementary School, Camden Elementary School, Myles Elementary School and Bradley Elementary School for your excellent participation!
1st Place: Remsen Jr/Sr High School With 193 students, Remsen Jr/Sr High School collected an ASTONISHING 842 pounds of plastic film for recycling. This equals 4.36 pounds per student. THEY HAVE BROKEN THE RECORD FOR THE HIGHEST WEIGHT PER CAPITA OF PLASTIC FILM COLLECTED THROUGH THESE CHALLENGES TO DATE!
2nd Place: Mount Markham Middle School With 317 students, Mount Markham Middle School collected 74.5 pounds of plastic film for recycling. This equals .24 pounds per student.
3rd Place: Whitesboro Middle School With 469 students, Whitesboro Middle School collected 97 pounds of plastic film for recycling. This equals 0.21 pounds per student.
Thank you to Camden High School, Perry Junior High School and Proctor High School for your excellent participation!
Sauquoit Valley Elementary School will be awarded presentations from the Utica “Zoomobile” and Remsen Jr/Sr High School will be awarded appearances from KISS FM DJs.
The following items cannot be placed in your curbside recycling bin, but can be recycled at participating grocery stores and other retailers:
- Grocery Bags
- Bread Bags
- Case Overwrap
- Dry Cleaning Bags
- Newspaper Sleeves
- Ice Bags
- Wood Pellet Bags
- Ziploc and other Reclosable Bags
- Produce Bags
- Bubble Wrap
- Salt Bags
- Cereal Bags
For a list of participating retailers near you, please visit www.ohswa.org.
If you are unable to deliver your plastic film for proper recycling, please place plastic film in your regular garbage for disposal.
For more information about the Authority’s Go Green School Recycling Program, please contact Jamie Tuttle, Recycling Educator, at (315) 733-1224 ext. 2300 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on recycling and waste disposal, visit www.ohswa.org. You may also ask questions and find information on the Authority’s Facebook page (Oneida Herkimer Solid Waste Authority).