Community recycling program turns plastic films, bags into composite benches

Plastic bag in hand, a customer leaves a store in Frisco on Aug. 14, 2019. A community recycling initiative allows plastic films and bags to be turned into composite benches.
Photo by Liz Copan / Summit Daily archives

A NexTrex recycling program turns plastic films that are typically hard to recycle into a composite bench for community organizations.

The Rotary Club of Summit County became involved with the program this year, and the town of Silverthorne is now looking to follow suit.

Mike Spry, Silverthorne Town Council and Rotary Club member, presented the idea of getting involved during council’s work session Wednesday, July 14, because he said it aligns with the town’s sustainability goals.

The program came about through the Rotary Climate Action Team, led by Rotary member Marcy Woodland. Spry said the team was created when the newest Rotary International president set a goal for the clubs to focus on more climate and environment initiatives worldwide.

“That group has really done a good job of trying to find projects and programming that are scalable and relevant for our local community,” Spry said.

Spry said the program allows any community organization to collect 500 pounds of stretchy plastic in a six-month period and bring it to a Trex collection site. Once Trex has validated the material, the organization receives a bench made from recycled plastic. The City Market in Dillon is home to the current collection site, and anyone can bring their stretchy plastics there to recycle.

Acceptable plastics include those with Nos. 2 or 4 recycling symbols as well as pallet wrap, grocery and produce bags, case and product wrap, dry cleaning bags and bubble wrap.

“All these kinds of plastics that usually you have no way to recycle are now not only being recycled, but we know for sure it’s going into a product,” Woodland said.

Marcy Woodland poses for a photo with a NexTrex collection box. Found at City Market in Dillon, the box is a collection site for plastic films and bags that are recycled through a Trex community recycling program.
Photo from Marcy Woodland

Woodland said the program is a six-month competition, and if the 500 pounds can be collected within that time period, the organization receives the bench. In its first couple of months, she said the program collection was slow, but in June, 64 pounds of stretchy plastic came from the community. In total, the club now has 423 pounds of plastic collected, with about a month and a half left to collect the last 77 pounds it needs to earn a bench.

Woodland heard about the program from another Rotary club in Oregon, which had been doing so well that it started donating its plastic to other clubs to help kick-start more local initiatives. The club in Oregon donated 139 pounds to the Summit Rotary club.

“We want this to build because the important thing is keeping plastic out of the landfill and out of the oceans and out of our bodies,” Woodland said. “So we’re anxious to spread it as much as we can.”

Spry said he has already been in conversations with town staff to get the project amplified. He said he wants the program to continue to be a Rotary-led initiative and that Silverthorne would look to support it logistically by spreading the word and possibly adding another collection site.

“Everything’s about having these projects in Rotary kind of be an incubator, and then hopefully they get some momentum and just become a little bit more organic within the community,” Spry said.

Anyone who brings their plastics to the City Market drop-off location should email the weight of their donation to Woodland at to contribute to the bench.

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