After a two-year pause, the Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority (Authority) sponsored its fifth annual Plastic Film Recycling Challenge for local schools in an effort to promote and educate youth and the community on proper recycling of 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. The law states that 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 which provide plastic carry out bags to customers, are required to establish an in-store film plastic recycling program and ensure that collected film plastics are recycled.
As of March 1, 2020, a new statewide law banned the distribution of plastic carry out bags for all retailers that are required to collect NYS Sales Tax. These locations are still required to accept plastic film back for recycling. For more information about who this law effects, exempt bags and more, please visit the NYS Bag Waste Reduction Law page on the Department of Environmental Conservation's website.
“Even though grocery stores are no longer distributing plastic bags, there are still a lot of other plastic films that we see placed in recycling bins. Plastic film causes time consuming and often labor-intensive breakdowns at Recycling Centers,” stated Authority Recycling Coordinator, Samantha Brown. “We encourage residents to utilize the plastic film recycling programs still provided by retailers across the region,” she continued.
Fourteen schools participated in the 2022 Plastic Film Recycling Challenge and had six 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 4,500 pounds of plastic film was collected for recycling in six weeks – that is the equivalent of recycling almost 340,000 plastic grocery bags. Below are the 1st and 2nd place schools in each category.
1st Place: E.R. Hughes Elementary School With 469 students, E.R. Hughes School collected 1,443 pounds of plastic film for recycling. This equals 3.08 pounds per student. E.R. Hughes alone collected 32% of the plastic film in this challenge.
2nd Place: Sauquoit Valley Elementary School With 390 students, Sauquoit Valley Elementary School collected 1,142 pounds of plastic film for recycling. This equals 2.93 pounds per student. Sauquoit Valley Elementary School collected 26% of the total film reported in this challenge.
The Authority also thanks Clough School, Camden Elementary School, Owen D Young Central School, Myles Elementary School, and Frankfort-Schuyler Elementary School for their excellent participation.
1st Place: Remsen Jr/Sr High School With 192 students, Remsen Jr/Sr High School collected 694 pounds of plastic film for recycling. This equals 3.61 pounds per student.
2nd Place: Poland Central School With 550 students, Poland Central School collected 356 pounds of plastic film for recycling. This equals 0.65 pounds per student.
The Authority would also like to thank Camden Middle School, Jarvis Middle School, Herkimer Jr/Sr High School, Thomas R Proctor High School, and Mount Markham Middle School for their excellent participation.
E.R. Hughes Elementary School will be awarded presentations from the Utica “Zoomobile” and Remsen Jr/Sr High School will be awarded a Trex Decking Cornhole Set – made from recycled plastic film.
This year, ALL participating schools will be receiving an engraved Trex Decking Board (made of recycled plastic film) to champion their recycling efforts.
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
- Plastic Bubble Mailing Envelopes
“Flexibility indicates the quality of plastic film materials,” says Brown. “If you are struggling with whether your plastic material is considered plastic film, try this trick: if the material stretches when pulled apart; it is likely a film plastic that can be recycled at appropriate drop off locations. If the material is crinkly or rigid, and does not stretch at all, this material is not film plastic and should be placed in your garbage,” she continued.
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 Samantha Brown, Recycling Coordinator, at (315) 733-1224 ext. 2800 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).