BERNARDS TWP., NJ - The Basking Ridge Business Alliance (BRBA) and the Bernards Township Department of Public Works are teaming up to conduct a six-month "challenge" to collect 500 pounds of plastic bags and plastic wrap _ with the rewards for success being both a bench for a township and also keeping additional plastic out of the waste stream.

The Bernards Township Environmental Committee and the Trex Company is sponsoring the collection, set to launch on Oct. 15, township officials said at last week's Township Committee meeting. It will continue through next April 15.

The type of plastics that will be part of the public collection are those not included in Somerset County's recycling program, according to information provided by the Environmental Commission.

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"If we collect 500 pounds of eligible plastic material...we will win a Trex bench for our community," said a handout for the program.

The plastic to be collected at municipal and business locations at varying hours throughout the township includes grocery bags and produce bags; overwraps, pallet wraps and stretch films; dry cleaning bags and newspaper sleeves; ice bags; wood pellet bags; bubble wrap and air pillow; empty and clean cereal bags and bread bags. 

All plastic to be donated must be clean, dry and free of residue.

Participating collection sites include the Pill Hill Recycling Center at Pill Hill Road; Keller Williams Towne Square Realty at 222 Mount Airy Road; the Bernards Township Engineering Service Building, visitors entrance, 277 S. Maple Ave.; the Bernards Township Library, 32 S. Maple Ave.; Postal Annex, 403 King George Road at Dewy Meadow Village; WABBA Travel, 66 S. Finley Ave.; and at the Somerset Hills YMCA, 140 Mount Airy Road in Basking Ridge.

Further details will be announced prior to the collection, according to the environmental commission.

The initiative was also detailed in a resolution approved by the Township Committee on Sept. 24.

"Bernards Township wishes to encourage positive, environmentally-sound choices; and...a substantial quantity of non-biodegradable single use plastic film ends up as unsightly litter on our roadsides and in our trees, in our storm drains and consequently in our waterways where they can be devastating to marine life and seabirds," the resolution states.

Bernards Township receives grant monies from the Recycling Tonnage Grant for the purpose of further improving a community’s recycling rate, the resolution states. 

The Township Committee wishes to promote clean communities programs that include education through involvement of residents within Bernards Township by means of a plastic film recycling challenge sponsored by Trex Company, which uses recycled plastic film to manufacture building products and is one of the largest polyethylene plastic recyclers in the United States, the resolution states.

The goal of recycling 500 pounds of plastic film refuse translates into about 40,500 bags, the resolution notes. If the challenge is met, the township will qualify for a high-performance composite bench to be donated by Trex that will be installed within Bernards Township, the resolution states.