Starting in November, schools nationwide can compete for prizes and cash awards by entering an annual recycling contest run by Trex Company, Inc. that has been sponsored by Charter Next Generation (CNG), a Wisconsin-based flexible packaging company that is a member of the Flexible Packaging Association (FPA).
The 16th Annual Trex® Plastic Film Recycling Challenge encourages students in grades K–12 to work together to collect and recycle polyethylene (PE) plastic film for the chance to win Trex products for their campuses. Trex makes high-performance, low-maintenance composite decking and outdoor living products. CNG became involved in the 2021–22 contest by providing cash prizes, with CNG donating $5,000 to the winning schools and $2,500 to the runners-up and gamifying the competition through social media and a live landing page.
The contest for 2022–23 officially kicks off on November 15 to coincide with America Recycles Day and will conclude on April 22, 2023, which is Earth Day.
As one of the leading providers of specialty PE films in North America, CNG became involved in the contest as a way to reach students about the importance of recycling. CNG is heavily involved in FPA, including the Emerging Leadership Council (ELC) that was recently formed to promote recruitment and retention in the flexible packaging industry as well as educational efforts about the importance of flexible packaging.
Kathy Bolhous, CNG’s CEO, said after this year’s contest that CNG intends to build on the Trex program’s success. “CNG has been thrilled with the energy, engagement, and excitement students brought to this year’s competition,” Bolhous said in a statement.
CNG formed partnerships with Trex before. “CNG has a high focus on diverting plastic film from landfills by developing materials that are readily recyclable and actively promoting the importance of recycling,” said CNG in a statement. “The company is a longtime participant in the NexTrex™ Recycling Program and worked closely with Trex on its GreenArrow™ platform of sustainable films for flexible packaging to ensure their suitability for the Trex recycling stream.”
Trex produces its decking using 95% recycled and reclaimed materials, including a mix of wood scrap and PE plastic film ranging from various common household items such as grocery bags, newspaper sleeves, and bubble wrap, as well as retail plastic waste including pallet wrap and industrial packaging, according to Trex.
About the Contest
Started in 2007, the recycling challenge was created to educate students about upcycling and to actively engage them in the recycling of plastic film, a key ingredient in the composite decking, Trex says.
Students from 686 schools participated in the 2021–22 challenge. Together, they collected a total of 323,586 pounds of PE plastic film, contributing to the nearly 400 million pounds of plastic film that Trex diverts from landfills annually.
Trex awards prizes to the top recyclers based on grade level, school size, and region. Fifty-seven regional winners were recognized in 2021–22, representing schools from across the country, the company also says. Moscow Charter School, located in Moscow, Idaho, was the top school, where students collected 7,735 pounds of recyclable plastic film through classroom challenges and communitywide outreach.
Signing up for the 2022–23 Contest
Schools can sign up for the 2022–23 contest by filling out a brief form at Recycle.Trex.com.
Trex says it makes participation easy by supplying each school with a toolkit, including detailed instructions, promotional materials, recycling bins, and a list of qualifying recyclable materials. Schools also can leverage the content and educational resources on the recycling website.
Stephanie Hicks, materials sourcing manager for Trex Company, said in a statement after this year’s contest that the program provides students a hands-on opportunity to make a difference in their communities while learning the value of recycling.
“Paired with CNG’s generous corporate sponsorship, we continue to broaden adoption of our easy-to-implement annual recycling program among schools and in turn, increase the overall amount of plastic film material upcycled into Trex’s world-famous composite decking,” she said.
Thomas A. Barstow is senior editor at FlexPack VOICE®.
Sidebar: CNG Cash Awards
CNG provided $5,000 to each of the first-place winners of the 2021–22 Trex® Plastic Film Recycling Challenge in elementary, middle, and high schools. Here are those winners:
First Place: Moscow Charter School in Moscow, Idaho; E.L. Wright Middle School in Columbia, South Carolina; and North Cross High School in Roanoke, Virginia.
Second Place: Woodland Elementary School in Monroe Township, New Jersey; Einstein Middle School in Appleton, Wisconsin; and York Community High School in Elmhurst, Illinois.
Additionally, a special award of $2,500 went to the students at Maple Grove Elementary School in Greenfield, Wisconsin, in recognition of the students’ creativity and activity on social media.
“Through teamwork, grassroots community outreach, and outstanding use of social media, this school educated and engaged its community to get involved in the recycling program and generated a steady stream of images, videos, and posts using the #TrexRecyclingChallenge and #Recycle2Win hashtags,” said CNG in a statement.
CNG also developed and managed a landing page, Recycle2Win.com, which showcased a leaderboard, social media activity, and competition news.