CHARLOTTE, Mich. — After collecting, washing and sorting more than 250 pounds of bottle caps and lids students in the functional independence program at Charlotte High School saw their hard work rewarded with a new bench made out of the recycled products.
“It feels good, because then we have something if we want to go sit out there,” said Charlotte High School senior Abby Mccune.
Tami Nixon, one of the functional independence program teachers, said part of the program deals with job skills and, a few years ago, students started to collect recyclables from classrooms, which they would then sort and take to the recycling authority.
“We had a lot of water bottles, big surprise at a high school," Nixon said. "So, one of the things you have to do there for them to accept them is take the caps off. So, we can’t recycle those at that center so we were discovering that we had a whole bunch of water bottles that we could take over, but we had these bins of caps, and we weren’t really sure. We put them in commingle but we weren’t really sure if there was another use for them.”
So, students like Mccune started to do some research to see what else they could do and eventually found Green Tree Plastics, a company in Indiana that manufactures recycled plastic products using 100 percent recycled plastics.
“You can collect acceptable caps and lids and it’s a different recycling process. You can take your caps and lids down and weigh them and exchange them for plastic furniture,” Nixon said.
Nixon said they applied for the program got accepted and then got to work, speaking with second graders about recycling and putting bins at schools and the recycling center to collect the caps and lids.
Students started collecting the items in 2019 and, by the spring of this year, they had collected 250 pounds. They then loaded up a trailer with the boxes of lids and caps and Nixon then headed to Indiana to drop them off.
Mccune says the best part of the project was, “working as a team together. Like getting the caps cleaned and getting them ready so we can actually get the bench."
Recycling is important to Mccune because it protects animals.
“It will keep it out of the ocean,” she said.
Nixon said she's very proud of her students and they’re going to continue to collect caps and lids to get either a picnic table or a bench for another school.
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