Virginia County turns plastic waste into a place to rest your feet

YORK COUNTY, Va. — What may look like an ordinary bench is much more.

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“We take plastic bags and other stretch film and consumer film, mix it with hardwood sawdust, extrude it, and make beautiful outdoor decking products.” said Stephanie Hicks, material sourcing manager at the Trex processing center in Winchester, Va.

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

For years people have been throwing their plastic in bins like these all over York County. And all that plastic was turned into seven benches like the one in the Tabb bookcase.

“By participating in the program, we have the opportunity to turn this material into something much more useful,” McNeil says.

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

“The plastic bags that our community collects are actually returned as a bench,” McNeil says. That means there’s a good chance that some plastic waste you put in one of the bins is actually part of a bench you’re sitting on.

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

“Bring us your plastic. Bring us your bags of wood pellets, bring us your bags of ice, bring us your plastic bags from the grocery store,” McNeil explains.

“Look to see if the material stretches. If it’s stretchy, you can put it on. If it’s wrinkled and shiny, leave it out,” says Hicks.

If you live in York County and would like 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 information can also be found below:

Video: Info on school and community challenges

Video: Recycling plastic bags and films with NexTrex

Bryce K. Locke