Recycling efforts rewarded with park bench
By Heather Graves
GREEN BAY – A new park bench is on its way to Green Bay, thanks to the recycling efforts of residents.
Since June, the city has been participating in the NexTrex Recycling Program, which turns plastic films typically difficult to recycle into composite benches for communities.
NexTrex, a Winchester, Virginia-based company, works with communities to collect unwanted plastics material the company uses in its products.
For every 500 pounds of plastic material, or about 40,500 plastic bags, collected by the city during the six-month challenge (June 1-Dec. 1), NexTrex will donate a park bench made from the recycled material.
“We enrolled in the program about two months ago and as of last week, we already hit our 500-pound mark,” Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department Director Dan Ditscheit said. “So it has been very successful. We hit our mark rather quickly. So we already ordered our bench.”
The program was originally brought to the Green Bay Sustainability Commission by District 7 Alderperson Randy Scannell earlier this year.
“We discussed it at the (Sustainability) Commission and voted unanimously for (city) council to approve it, which it unanimously did,” Scannell said.
Residents can donate clear plastic film bags and products including grocery bags, bread bags, produce bags, case overlaps, newspaper bags, dry cleaning bags, cereal box liners, Ziploc style bags, white plastic padded envelopes and bubble wrap at one of two donation boxes in the city.
“We decided to do collecting outside of City Hall and outside the Nature Center at the (Bay Beach) Wildlife Sanctuary,” Ditscheit said. “It’s a fairly easy process.”
All donated materials must be clean, dry and free of food residue.
Ditscheit said the city’s bench is expected to arrive in 12-14 weeks.
He said the city will place the first bench at the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary.
“Most of the collection we’ve gotten, although we’ve been very successful getting plastic here at City Hall, the bulk has come from people who have been out at the sanctuary,” Ditscheit said.
Scannell said the recycling program gives the city the opportunity to do its part in keeping plastic waste out of landfills, and turn that waste into something useful.
“I think the more we can do to reuse as many materials as possible that are dumped into our landfills, the better,” he said. “Plastics is something I think we can easily make a difference with by replacing them with paper – paper straws, carryout containers, etc. Regrettably, state law prohibits us from taking some of these actions. So, this program is a great way to reduce the plastic going into our landfills.”
Ditscheit said though a new bench is a nice bonus, the city’s focus is recycling.
“It is important for the city to be involved with this to be good stewards of the environment,” he said. “It is easy for the city to fund a bench.
We really didn’t enroll in this program to get free benches. We enrolled in this program because it is really the right thing to do for the environment. And we can do whatever we can to promote to the public that there are simple things that you can do that will make a difference in the world.”
Scannell said he also provided the city and county information about MacRebur, a company that uses plastics as part of its mix to resurface roads.
“Unfortunately, logistically and economically it did not work out,” he said.