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West Hartford Land Trust Hoping to Earn Bench through Film Plastic Recycling Program

Bins for the collection of plastic bags and film plastic have been installed in several West Hartford locations. Courtesy of Diane Mack (we-ha.com file photo)

The plastic film recycling program that launched in 2020 has resumed, and runs through Oct. 16, 2021.

Example of a park bench manufactured by Trex. Courtesy image

By Ronni Newton

The West Hartford Land Trust had just started an initiative to collect film plastic when the COVID-19 pandemic began and spaces where the collection boxes were located closed to the public, but the organization relaunched its effort this spring and is well on the way to not only diverting a large volume of material from the waste stream, but also earning a park bench for use of the community.

The film plastic is being donated to Trex, a Winchester, VA-based company known mostly for creating composite decking material. The company works with schools as well as community groups to collect unwanted plastics material that the company then uses in its products. According to Trex, their decking products contain 95% recycled material.

Through the Trex Challenge, the company has committed to donating a “high-performance composite bench” to a school or community group if 500 pounds of plastic is collected within a six-month span of time.

According to Trex’s website, that translates to about 40,500 plastic bags.

Since relaunching the film plastic collection in April, “we have already collected 470 pounds from conscientious residents who are eager to participate as they look for more outlets and ways to recycle responsibly,” said Dorian Olivera, associate director of the West Hartford Land Trust.

“Maybe we can score two benches at this rate,” Olivera said. But that’s not the only goal, he added. “It’s all part of a nationwide program to keep thousands of pounds of waste out of the landfill, while rewarding them with functional and environmentally responsible outdoor products to participating communities and schools.”

While as of June 30, 2021 the state of Connecticut has banned single-use plastic “bags with a thickness of less than four (4.0) mils that are provided by a store to a customer at the point of sale,” there are still many other types of plastic film eligible for the recycling, including:

  • E-commerce mailing bags, Ziploc and other reclosable bags
  • Ice bags, store bags, bread bags, produce bags, dry cleaning bags
  • Case overwraps, cereal box liners, newspaper sleeves, and bubble wrap

Plastics must be clean, dry, and free of food and organic residue, Olivera said. 

Sample of film plastics that can be recycled. Courtesy image

Collection boxes can be found in the following locations:

  • Town Hall Lobby
  • Noah Webster Library (main branch on South Main Street)
  • Bishops Corner Branh Library
  • Faxon Branch Library  
  • Elmwood Community Center
  • Brixton Town Recycling Center

Volunteers have been routinely collecting the material from the bins, weighing it, and then dropping it at Big Y in Bishops Corner, said Olivera. “Big Y graciously coordinates delivery to Trex,” he said. Olivera said the West Hartford Land Trust is also grateful to town employees and departments for supporting the efforts.

More information about reducing plastic film use can be found here: Single-Use Plastic Is Everywhere. Here’s How To Use Less Plastic : Life Kit?

For more information about the West Hartford Land Trust, visit the organizations’s website.

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