Community recycling program turns plastic films and bags into composite benches

Plastic bag in hand, a customer leaves a store in Frisco on August 14, 2019. A community recycling initiative turns plastic films and bags into composite benches.
Photo by Liz Copan / Summit Daily Archives

A NexTrex recycling program turns plastic films that are generally difficult to recycle into a composite bench for community organizations.

The Summit County Rotary Club got involved in the program this year, and the city of Silverthorne is now looking to follow suit.

Mike Spry, Silverthorne City Council and Rotary Club member, pitched the idea of ​​getting involved at the council working session on Wednesday, July 14, as he said it aligned with development goals sustainable city.

The program was born out of the Rotary Climate Action Team, led by Rotary member Marcy Woodland. Spry said the team was formed when the new president of Rotary International set a goal for clubs to focus on more climate and environmental initiatives around the world.

“This group has really done a good job trying to find scalable and relevant projects and programs for our local community,” said Spry.

Spry said the program allows any community organization to collect 500 pounds of stretch plastic over a six-month period and take it to a Trex collection site. After Trex validates the material, the organization receives a bench made from recycled plastic. Dillon’s City Market is home to the current collection site, and anyone can bring their stretch plastics there for recycling.

Acceptable plastics include those bearing the # 2 or # 4 recycling symbols as well as pallet wraps, grocery and product bags, crate and product wraps, dry cleaning bags, and bubble wrap.

“All of these types of plastics that you usually don’t have a way to recycle are now not only recycled, but we know for sure that they go into a product,” Woodland said.

Marcy Woodland poses for a photo with a NexTrex collector’s box. Found at the City Market in Dillon, the Box is a collection site for films and plastic bags that are recycled as part of a Trex community recycling program.
Photo by Marcy Woodland

Woodland said the program is a six-month competition, and if the 500 pounds can be collected within that time, the organization receives the bench. In the first two months, she said the program’s collection was slow, but as of June, 64 pounds of stretch plastic was coming from the community. In total, the club now have 423 pounds of plastic collected, with around a month and a half to collect the last 77 pounds they need to earn a bench.

Woodland heard about the program from another Rotary club in Oregon, which had worked so well that he began donating his plastic to other clubs to help start more local initiatives. The Oregon club donated 139 pounds to the Summit Rotary club.

“We want this to build because what’s important is keeping plastic out of the landfill, out of the oceans and out of our bodies,” Woodland said. “So we are looking forward to spreading it as much as we can.”

Spry said he has already had conversations with city staff to amplify the project. He said he wanted the program to continue to be a Rotary-led initiative and that Silverthorne would seek to support him logistically by spreading the word and possibly adding another collection site.

“It’s all about making these projects at Rotary kind of like an incubator, and then hopefully they gain some momentum and become a little more organic within the community,” Spry said.

Anyone bringing their plastics to the city market drop-off point should send the weight of their donation to Woodland at [email protected] contribute to the bench.


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