Bags to Benches: TVCR Launches Plastic Film Recycling Initiative
We all use way too many disposable plastic bags in our daily life, even if we diligently bring our own grocery bags and limit online shopping. Teton Valley Community Recycling has recently discovered a way to take that plastic waste and turn it into something useful for our community – sturdy outdoor benches for public parks and schools – as part of the NexTrex program funded by polywood decking manufacturer Trex.
How it works: Community members collect and consolidate their clear, stretchy plastic film bags and products. This includes things like grocery bags, bread bags, produce bags, newspaper bags, dry cleaning bags, Ziploc style bags, and bubble wrap. This program also takes cereal box liners (Yay!) and even those pesky white plastic padded envelopes from Amazon and FedEx (only the ones that are 100% plastic, not the paper envelopes – labels are ok). See the detailed info below, but if in doubt, please DO NOT give it to us. Crumbs and receipts are also a big no-no.
It is critical that all material is CLEAN and DRY and completely free of ANY food residue or garbage. It is also very important that only accepted material is delivered – this means no frozen food bags (which have a waxy liner), dark or black plastic trash bags, or any other item not pictured in the image. Contaminated materials risk the whole batch being thrown in the landfill and/or our community being rejected from participating in the program. Please consolidate all of your clean, dry plastic into one larger bag so it is easier for to transport.
What our community gets: 1) less plastic ending up in the landfill and 2) some nice new benches in our public spaces (up to two benches per year), the first going to Victor Elementary School to replace the playground “buddy bench”. The “buddy bench” is an important social-emotional tool for kids who are feeling lonely or sad during recess, where other kids can scoop them up to join in their game or sit quietly with them. TVCR will be welcoming requests for other bench locations starting in fall 2021.
While RAD Curbside was eager to assist in the program with residential curbside pick-up for recycling customers, we realized that the small TVCR staff would quickly be overwhelmed by the sheer quantity they can collect. Broulim’s manager, Cody Roberts, has agreed to assist TVCR with some of their recycling if we fall short of our goal – 500 lbs (or 45,000 bags) in each 6-month period. With each valley household producing close to a pound of single use plastic each week, we have no doubt that we will quickly reach our goal. RAD and TVCR are looking at options to scale up the operation as a county-wide recycling service.
TVCR executive director, Iris Saxer, urges the community NOT to increase your use of disposable plastic. There is more than enough out there already, so please continue to bring your own bags, rinse and reuse what you have, and be a conscious consumer of any packaged goods. We will collect and put to use the unavoidable plastics from your bread bags to your bubble wrap (please pop first!) and in return, you’ll start having some nice places to sit when you are at the park.
Clean, dry, clear bags can be dropped off at the following locations:
Teton Geo Tourism Center in Driggs. (6 am-10 pm)
General Laundry in Victor. (7 am -10 pm)
(Broulim’s will take the usual plastic bags, but not cereal bags or plastic mailers)