COOPERSTOWN — Gilbertsville-Mount Upton Elementary and Morris Middle/High Schools were the top recyclers of film plastic in this year’s Otsego County Plastic Film Recycling Challenge sponsored by the Otsego County Solid Waste Department and Otsego County Conservation Association.

The event is held to raise awareness and keep plastics out of the main recycling stream. 

According to a media release, GMU students collected 786.8 pounds of bags and film plastic, equal to 3.9 pounds per student. At Morris, the total was 246.8 pounds, or 1.6 pounds per student.

“The kids did a great job taking this message home to their parents and community,” said Jeff O’Handley, OCCA’s program director. “We hope they will continue recycling now that the competition is over.”

Students from Greater Plains Elementary School in Oneonta, Worcester and Richfield Springs also participated.

Collectively more than 3,300 pounds of film plastics were recycled.

Students at Worcester Central School created a monster that was placed at the main entrance to remind everyone to bring in their plastic. Other schools had competitions between classes, as well as peer-to-peer teaching to increase participation.

“My environmental science students gave presentations in grades pre-k through eighth grade classrooms, as well as posted updated weights on a poster in the lobby and on Facebook” said Heather Grant, a teacher at Morris.

“We had a challenge that was supported by our PTO,” said Nancy Osborn of Greater Plains Elementary School. “The winning grade level would win either a pizza party or ice cream party.”

Richfield Springs worked the recycling challenge into its school kindness theme,” said Lisa Trask. “We told kids how long it takes plastic to break down in the earth. When they brought plastic in they were given a kindness coin.”

Schools were recruited last October through early November. The challenge officially began on Nov. 15, America Recycles Day. The challenge was scheduled to run until mid-April, but was cut short because of COVID-19.

Under state law, stores of a certain size continue to be required to collect bags and film plastics and send them to a recycler. Materials include plastic grocery bags, dry cleaning and newspaper bags, package overwrap and wood pellet bags. A list of items that may be taken to stores is available at www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/50042.html.

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