Posted by Karen Koch
Rotary Club of Lake Township:  Recycling plastic, protecting local landscapes, and providing park benches– all in one program
Remember the popular ad campaign created years ago by America’s Dairy Council, with the catchy phrase “Got Milk?” paired with a photo of a celebrity wearing a milk mustache?
Today one thing we’ve got, no questions asked, is plastic.
The numbers below reveal the impact of plastic bags alone:
  • In the US alone, more than 100 billion plastic bags are used each year – that's more than 300 bags per person.
  • It's estimated that the US throws out roughly 100 billion plastic bags annually, generating about 3.3 million tons of trash (only about 1 to 2 percent are recycled). (Oct 4, 2014)
  • 100,000 marine animals are killed by plastic bags annually.
The Rotary Club of Lake Township feels our club is doing its part to reduce plastic bags and film going into our local environment, laying alongside our roadways, and entering state landfills by participating in a simple plastic recycling program.  It’s one that you can easily support as well.
Our Club of Lake Township began participating in the NexTREX Community Recycling program in July of 2019, after learning about it from friends and members of the Port Summit Rotary Club 
TREX is a U.S. manufacturer of premium outdoor living products including benches, decking, and railing, and for the past decade has accepted plastic recycled film to create their product line.  The company offers recycling challenges to schools and community groups to participate, specifically, to collect 500 pounds of plastic within a six-month period.  If we do so, we receive a high performance composite bench, such as the two shown in the photo, made by TREX.
In less than a year, we have earned three beautiful park benches, which we will be donating to community partners in our area.  One will soon be placed next to the Love Our Community warehouse in Hartville; the final resting places for the other two are yet to be determined.
It is easy to collect the plastic film needed by TREX because the plastic film is commonly used for food and convenience packaging today.  Here is what is accepted:
NOTE: All plastic collected must be clean, dry, and free of food residue.
- plastic film labeled with a #2 or #4 recycling symbol (polyethylene films) 
-retail and grocery bags
-bread bags
-bubble wrap, air pillows
-dry cleaning wrap bags
- newspaper sleeves and fresh produce bags
-ice bags
-plastic shipping envelopes
-Ziploc and other reclosable food storage bags
-cereal bags
-case overwrap, i.e., such as used for water bottles and new furniture pieces
- salt bags
- pallet wrap and stretch film
-wood pellet bags
As our members collect plastic, we weigh it and report the weight to one of several Rotary Club members who maintain a plastic collection spreadsheet.  We also forward our recycling totals to Stephanie Hicks, Materials Sourcing Manager at TREX, via e-mail.  We then drop our plastic off, preferably collected in clear or light colored plastic bags – no black heavy duty garbage bags, please - to our local Hartville Giant Eagle grocery store’s large plastic collection bin, located outside by its main entrance.  As our local retailer participating as a collection point for TREX, Giant Eagle moves the plastic collected on its way to a TREX manufacturing facility.
We have encouraged other local community groups to begin their own NexTREX plastic collection during the past year.  To date, the Hartville Lions Club, Lake Township FISH Food Pantry, and Northhampton Rotary Club are also now collecting plastic for TREX.
If you are currently donating your plastic bags and film to Giant Eagle in Hartville as a community member, know that you are contributing as well to this great TREX recycling program.  Remember another great way you can help the environment is to bring and use your own shopping bags to the store every time you shop.
If your organization wants to accept the plastic film recycling challenge, visit or call Stephanie Hicks for more information at 540-542-6494, or e-mail her at
-Submitted by Karen Koch, President, Rotary Club of Lake Township