BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – With 104.9 pounds of thin film plastic garbage collected as of Friday, June 29, Berkeley Heights residents helped their community pass the 100 pound milestone in the Trex Thin Film Plastics Recycling Challenge (Trex Challenge). This brings community more than one-fifth of the way to meeting its 500 pounds goal by December 1, 2018 so that Trex – a company that builds furniture, decking, and other eco-friendly products – will donate a bench made from these thin film plastics to a local Berkeley Heights park or public school.

To encourage participation in the Trex Challenge, the Berkeley Heights Environmental Commission (BHEC) has placed Trex Bins in the following six convenient locations throughout town:

  1. Library - Located on Locust Avenue next to Little Flower Church; bin is next to entrance);
  2. Pet Supplies Plus - Located on Springfield Avenue in the Berkeley Shopping Center; bin is behind cash registers, by the exit);
  3. Police Station – Located on the corner of Plainfield Avenue and Park Avenue; bin is next to doorway);
  4. Governor Livingston High School – Located on Watchung Boulevard; bin is in the vestibule by the main office);
  5. Columbia Middle School – Located on Plainfield Avenue; bin is in the vestibule by the main office); and
  6. YMCA – Located on Springfield Avenue, next to the train station; bin will be located just past and opposite of the front desk beginning Sunday, July 1.

Local businesses are also partnering with the BHEC to help Berkeley Heights reach its 500 pound goal.  Life Time Athletic, located on Connell Drive, is continuously contributing the bubble wrap and other thin film plastics from the shipments of goods it receives.  Stop and Shop, located on Springfield Avenue in the Berkeley Shopping Center, is also contributing the thin film plastics it receives from its incoming shipments of goods. 

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It’s easy to participate in the Trex Challenge, as “thin film plastics” are everyday items.  These items generally fall into the following three categories: 

1. From the Grocery Store

  • Produce bags*
  • Bread bags*
  • Grocery bags*
  • Cereal box bags*
  • Cracker box bags*
  • Ice bags*

2. From Your Pantry

  • Ziploc and other resealable bags*
  • Plastic wrap*
  • Case over-wrap/shrink wrap (the plastic covering over a case of soup cans, toilet paper, paper towels, napkins, water bottles, etc.)*

3. From Your Front Door

  • Newspaper sleeves
  • Dry cleaning bags/plastic wrap
  • Plastic bags from clothing or other stores
  • Bubble wrap
  • Clear plastic wrapping around stationary boxes or other boxes

*All items must be clean, dry, and free of food items and food residueOnly items placed in these bins will count toward the Trex Challenge.

This means that you can take the plastic bags holding your produce, cereal, cookies, and newspapers, in addition the bubble wrap around packages delivered to your front door, and drop them all off at one of the six Trex Bin locations above. 

Having a big cookout to celebrate the Fourth of July?  Then save the plastic bun bags, cracker bags, and bread bags, along with the shrink wrap around any 24-pack of water bottles or the plastic holding together a 12- or 6-pack of other beverages, and bring them all to these locations as well.

Since June 2, 2018, BHEC members have been gathering the thin film plastics from the Trex Bins, weighing the Trex Bins’ contents, and delivering these contents to the ACME grocery store in New Providence for processing. The thin film plastics are then transported to ACME’s distribution center, where they are assembled in bales. The bales are then loaded on a tractor trailer and shipped to Trex. The below illustration shows this flow of thin film plastics from Trex Bin to Trex itself.

Your participation in the Trex Challenge comes at a very opportune time, given that the new changes in the Union County recycling rules that no longer allow plastic bags or other thin film plastics to be recycled in residents’ curbside recycling containers.  For a list of items that can be recycled curbside, see https://www.tapinto.net/towns/berkeley-heights/articles/recycling-rules-change-in-union-county.

Your assistance with the Trex Challenge benefits the environment by keeping plastics out of the world’s oceans.  Currently, there are approximately more than 150 million pounds of plastic waste in our oceans.  Similar to the Skyscraper whale sculpture constructed from 5 tons of blue and white plastic waste retrieved from the ocean and intended to heighten awareness about the amount of ocean trash, the Trex Bins serve as visual reminders of the global issue regarding plastic waste, as well as what you can do to play a role in addressing this issue.  (For additional information on the Skyscraper sculpture, see 

https://inhabitat.com/a-massive-five-ton-plastic-waste-whale-breaches-in-a-bruges-canal/.)

For updates regarding the current number of pounds collected during the Trex Challenge, as well as the location of additional Trex Bins once they are added, please check the Environmental Commission’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/BerkeleyHeightsEnvironmentalCommission/.

For additional information about the Trex Challenge, please visit the Trex website at: https://www.trex.com/recycling/recycling-programs/