WINCHESTER, VA.—After months of collecting, bundling and weighing as much discarded plastic film as they could, eco-minded students across the country are reaping the rewards of their recycling efforts as Trex Company, the world’s largest manufacturer of high-performance, low-maintenance composite decking and outdoor living products, announced the winners of its 2022-23 Trex® Plastic Film Recycling Challenge. Twelve schools from across the country were honored during a live ceremony where more than $50,000 in prizes was awarded.
Built on eco-friendly values, Trex composite decking is sustainably made from 95 percent recycled materials, including a mix of industrial wood scrap and polyethylene (PE) plastic film upcycled from common household items such as grocery/shopping bags, sandwich bags, case overwrap, newspaper sleeves and more. The Trex Plastic Film Recycling Challenge, now in its 16th year, educates students about upcycling and actively engages them in the recycling of this key ingredient in the company’s high-performance, low-maintenance decking.
“The Trex Plastic Film Recycling Challenge provides students with a firsthand appreciation for the importance of recycling and an understanding that value can be found in something that was once considered waste,” explained Stephanie Hicks, Materials Sourcing Manager for Trex Co. “Our turnkey program brings together thousands of students from coast to coast in a joint effort to make a global impact on plastic waste.”
Charter Next Generation was a Sponsor
The 2022-23 challenge kicked off last fall on America Recycles Day (November 15) and concluded this year on Earth Day (April 22). Over the course of the past five months, students in grades K-12 competed with one another to collect and recycle the most polyethylene plastic film for the chance to win high-performance Trex products to beautify their campuses. As an added incentive, students also had the chance to win cash prizes for their schools, thanks to the program’s corporate sponsor Charter Next Generation (CNG), one of the leading providers of specialty polyethylene films in North America.
“CNG is thrilled to once again be a part of this important and impactful program,” said Kathy Bolhous, CEO of Charter Next Generation. “We are pleased to be able to help recognize and reward schools for their hard work and dedication to protecting and preserving our planet.”
This year’s Trex Plastic Film Recycling Challenge delivered record-breaking numbers. More than 780 schools registered to participate, an increase of almost 100 over last year. Together, these students collected a combined total of over 420,000 pounds of polyethylene plastic film—nearly 100,000 pounds more than the 2021-22 challenge.
“Year after year, we continue to be amazed by the determination, drive and creativity of the eco-conscious students who participate in this challenge,” said Hicks. “The energy that these kids bring and the amount of plastic they are able to collect is truly astounding!”
Denbigh Students Collected 28,000 Pounds
Trex and CNG award prizes to the top recyclers based on grade level, school size and region. Leading the way in the 2022-23 challenge was Denbigh High School, located in Newport News, Va., where students in the school’s Eco Club collected an impressive 28,000 pounds (~14 tons) of recycled plastic film through classroom challenges and community-wide outreach.
“This is the fifth year Denbigh High School has participated in our school recycling challenge,” noted Hicks. “They began with the goal of winning a bench to add to their school’s butterfly garden. Since then, recycling has become an integral part of the school’s culture. Denbigh is now building an outdoor classroom and the money from this year’s big win will be used to make this a reality.”
In addition to bragging rights, each of the winning schools will receive a bench from Trex made of composite material, along with monetary prizes courtesy of corporate sponsor CNG, which donated a total of $50,000 for this year’s challenge. As the overall winner, Denbigh High School was presented with $7,500 during an award ceremony. The other first place schools each received $5,000. The second-place winners were awarded $3,000 and the third-place winners each received $2,500.
Social Media Awards
Additionally, three schools were awarded $5,000, $3,000, and $2,500, respectively, in recognition for their creative and impressive use of social media during the challenge. Through teamwork, grassroots community outreach and outstanding use of social media, these schools educated and engaged their community to get involved in the recycling program and generated a steady stream of images, videos and posts using the #TrexRecyclingChallenge and #Recycle2Win hashtags.
As one of the leading providers of specialty polyethylene films to the North American market, 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. The company is a long-time 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.
One of the largest recyclers of plastic film in North America, Trex upcycles more than 400,000,000 pounds of plastic waste annually in the making of its composite decking products. With the help of commercial and community recycling programs like the annual school challenge, the company has effectively diverted more than 6 billion pounds of discarded plastic film from winding up in landfills over the past 30 years.