Earth Day on April 22 marked the conclusion of the 15th annual Trex Plastic Film Recycling Challenge, a national competition that engages K-12 schools across the country in collecting and recycling as much plastic film as possible over a 5-month period starting on America Recycles Day (Nov. 15). The annual challenge is hosted by Trex Company, the world’s largest manufacturer of high-performance composite decking, which is made from a mix of recycled polyethylene plastic and industrial wood scrap. One of the largest recyclers of plastic film in North America, Trex upcycles nearly 400 million pounds of discarded plastic each year in the making of its world-famous decking. The company sources this raw material through a variety of commercial and retail partnerships, as well as community and school programs like its Plastic Film Recycling Challenge.
As the PR agency of record for Trex, LCWA provides support each year for this ever evolving and growing program. Elevating it to a new level this year was the addition of monetary prizes provided by the program’s first-ever financial sponsor, Charter Next Generation (CNG), one of the leading providers of specialty polyethylene films in North America. This incentive meant students could earn “green” for their schools by going green and collecting the greatest amount of plastic film.
In early November, LCWA issued a press release to media announcing the 2021-22 program and encouraging schools to participate. Leading up to the program kick-off on America Recycles Day, LCWA also created a turnkey toolkit which included a template press release, blog posts and newsletter articles for participating schools to use to promote their involvement and efforts.
A total of 686 schools across the U.S. competed in this year’s challenge, and their efforts diverted more than 323,500 pounds of polyethylene plastic film from landfills to be repurposed into eco-friendly Trex composite decking. Fifty-seven regional winners were recognized by Trex. Coming out on top was Moscow Charter School (MCS), located in Moscow, Idaho, where students collected a whopping 7,735 pounds of recycled plastic film through classroom challenges and community-wide outreach. In recognition for their efforts, the students of MCS received a bench made from composite material for their school campus and a check for $5,000.
Monetary prizes were also awarded to E.L. Wright Middle School in Columbia, S.C., North Cross High School in Roanoke, Va., Woodland Elementary School in Monroe Township, N.J., Einstein Middle School in Appleton, Wis., and York Community High School in Elmhurst, Ill. Additionally, a special award of $2,500 went to the students at Maple Grove Elementary School in Greenfield, Wis., in recognition of their creativity and impressive activity on social media.
At the completion of the collection period on Earth Day 2022, we distributed a press release highlighting the results of the challenge and the winners to national and local media. Coverage appeared in outlets across the country from industry trades like Plastics News, Composites World, and Waste Advantage Magazine to local news outlets such as The Telegraph, The Lewiston Tribune, My Saline and the Moscow-Pullman Daily News, the hometown paper of the overall winning school.
The 16th Annual Trex Plastic Film Recycling Challenge will kick off on November 15, 2022. Interested schools can sign up by completing a brief form on Recycle.Trex.com. Once enrolled, Trex makes participation easy by supplying each school with a turnkey toolkit, including detailed instructions, promotional materials, recycling bins and a list of qualifying recyclable materials. Schools can also leverage the easy-to-navigate Trex recycling website that features engaging content and educational resources.