BERNARDS TWP., NJ_ Last Sunday, five Mount Prospect elementary school students and recent graduates, collected 47 pounds of plastic bags and plastic wrap to give a big boost to the Bernards Township Environmental Commission’s “Trex Challenge” to collect 500 pounds of the thin film plastic within six months. All of the students are residents of the Patriot Ridge section of The Hills,

At Tuesday's Township Committee meeting, Township Committeewoman Joan Harris commended Mount Prospect Principle Joanne Hozeny for contacting her to link student efforts to the collection of the plastic materials, which are not included in Somerset County's recycling program.

Almost 10 percent of collection goal in one day

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The students collected nearly 10 percent of the township-wide collection's goal in just one day, Harris told the public.

Hima Manne, mother of one of the students, told the township that she utilized a neighborhood social media app to notify residents in advance of plans to collect plastic materials placed  out for the students to pick up.

“All I had to do is set it up and drive them around," she said. "They had a blast, amazed at how much they collected and how much we ultimately use.

"It was a great living green lesson, social lesson and a fun giving event this holiday season," Manne added.

The township students are Shaivi Manne, Siya Macha, Meera Shah, Allie Chen, and Milie Gupta, according to Bernards Township.

Six month "challenge" to continue through April

The Basking Ridge Business Alliance (BRBA) and the Bernards Township Department of Public Works teamed up this fall to launch 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 are sponsoring the collection, which began on Oct. 15, and will continue for six months until April 14, 2020, township officials said.

The challenge is that if the township collects If 500 pounds of eligible plastic material, "We will win a Trex bench for our community," said a handout for the program.

Types of plastics being collected

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 must be clean, dry, and residue-free. 

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.

Details on the program are on the Bernards Township website, including collection hours at specific locations.

Hozeny recently reached out to Harris, Township Committee Liaison to the Environmental Commission, seeking to get the school involved in the recycling project. The school principle was able to quickly get the effort organized at the school and create great enthusiasm among the Mount Prospect students and families, according to the township.

By recycling 500 pounds of thin film plastic garbage within six months, Bernards Township will qualify to receive a high-performance park bench made of recycled plastic. Trex, a company that specializes in composite decking, furniture and other eco-friendly products, aggregates the thin film plastics collected and repurposes them to create outdoor benches.

The Mount Prospect School is only available for drop-offs by students and their families. Visit the Bernards Township website for a complete list of drop-off locations. For more information on the project, contact Andrea Freijomil, Administrative Associate at the Bernards Township Engineering Department, at