Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Brethren are at work with unique recycling company.

Two Church of the Brethren members have joined the team of TerraCycle, Inc., a company based in Trenton, N.J., that focuses on environmental action through recycling. Kelsey Swanson and Michael Waas Smith have recently joined the TerraCycle staff.

Waas Smith is director of TerraCycle's new "Cookie Wrapper Brigade." He recommends the organization's five Brigade programs as fundraising opportunities for Church of the Brethren groups, particularly youth groups that may be looking for new ways to raise money for National Youth Conference.

The Brigade programs offer opportunities for schools and community groups--including churches--to join nationwide recycling fundraisers, working with the manufacturers of a variety of products. Groups collect previously non-recyclable or hard-to-recycle items in return for cash, while teaching about the environment. Anyone can sign up for the free programs and start earning donations for a local nonprofit. Participants receive free shipping collection bags or boxes.

Five recycling efforts are taking place: groups are being challenged to collect used soda bottles, yogurt containers, energy bar wrappers, used drink pouches, and cookie wrappers. In the "Drink Pouch Brigade," nonprofit groups will earn 2 cents per used drink pouch they collect. In the "Yogurt Brigade," groups earn 2 cents for every 6-ounce yogurt container, and 5 cents for every 32-ounce yogurt container they return (all yogurt containers must be cleaned). The "Bottle Brigade" pays 5 cents for every 20-ounce soda bottle. The "Wrapper Brigade" pays 2 cents for every energy bar or granola bar wrapper. The brand new "Cookie Wrapper Brigade" was just launched last week, Waas Smith said.

TerraCycle explains the need for such recycling programs: "Fruit drink pouches are a staple in American school cafeterias. According to the Container Recycling Institute, over 5 billion drink pouches are produced every year. Because the material used to makes these pouches is non-recyclable, virtually every single one is sent to a landfill. Similarly, more then 10 billion yogurt containers are consumed a year in America. In the case of Stonyfield Farm, its yogurt cups are made from Polypropylene Plastic #5. A study by the Center for Sustainable Systems determined #5 was the most environmentally preferred choice of plastic available for Stonyfield Farm yogurt because it allows the cups to use a minimal amount of plastic. However, since many recycling centers are not equipped to handle #5 cups, Stonyfield Farm teamed up with TerraCycle to save these from the landfills."

TerraCycle has more than 400 Yogurt Brigade locations and 700 locations involved in the Drink Pouch Brigade, and its Bottle Brigade recycling program broke 4,000 locations in 2007.

Recycled drink pouches will be made into handbags, tote bags, backpacks, and pencil cases for children and adults. Once returned to TerraCycle, yogurt containers are hand painted by inner-city artists and shipped to nurseries to replace non-recyclable plastic planting pots used by nurseries and retailers. The pots, called YoPlanter! are a way to lessen the more than 10 million plastic pots that are discarded each year.

Soda bottles are used to package TerraCycle's Organic Worm Poop fertilizers. TerraCycle feeds food and paper waste to millions of worms to create an organic fertilizer, which is packaged in reused soda bottles. "It was the world 's first product that is made from and packaged in waste!" said the release from TerraCycle. The Bottle Brigade has helped TerraCycle reuse over 2 million soda bottles in the last three years.

For more information about Brigade programs, visit www.terracycle.net/brigades.

Source: 4/22/2008 Earth Day Newsline

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