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Local community turns plastic waste into a place to rest your feet

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Posted at 8:21 AM, Feb 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-24 15:53:59-05

YORK COUNTY, Va.- This may look like an ordinary bench.

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And she looks like she’s just throwing away trash. But it's much more.

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"We take plastic bags and other stretch film and consumer films, mix it with hardwood sawdust, extrude it and make beautiful outdoor decking products." says Stephanie Hicks. She’s the Materials Sourcing Manager at the Trex processing Center in Winchester, Virginia.

Samantha McNeil, the Outreach Coordinator for York County, is involved in the Trex Plastic Bag Recycling Challenge. Her goal is to divert reusable or recyclable materials away from landfills

For years, people have been dropping their plastic into bins like these all across York County. And all that plastic has been turned into seven benches just like this one at Tabb Library.

"By participating in the program, we have opportunities to turn that material into something much more useful," says McNeil.

So what is the Trex Plastic Bag Recycling Challenge? It is to collect 500 pounds of plastic over a six month period. McNeil says they exceed that amount by hundreds. Once they do collect the 500 pounds, that plastic is then shipped to the Trex processing plant in Winchester.

"The plastic bags that our community collects is actually returned in the form of a bench," says McNeil. That means, there's a good chance a piece of plastic waste you dropped into one of the bins is actually a part of a bench you sit on.

So how can you help bring more benches to the area?

"Bring us your plastic. Bring us your wood pellet bags, bring us your ice bags, bring us your plastic bags from the grocery store," says McNeil.

"Look to see if the material will stretch. If it’s stretchy, you can put it in. If it’s crinkly and shiny, leave it out," says Hicks.

If you live in York County and want more information on how to donate your plastic or get your school involved in the program, you can contact Waste Management or visit this website. If you live outside the area and want to get your community or school involved, you can visit Trex Recycling Programs.

Other info can also be found below:

Video:School and Community Challenge Info [youtu.be]

Video:Plastic bag and film recycling with NexTrex! [youtube.com]