BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – As a reward for Berkeley Heights residents collecting more than 500 pounds of thin film plastics within an eight-week period during the Trex Thin Film Plastics Challenge, the Trex Company (Trex) will be providing the Berkeley Heights Environmental Commission (BHEC) with an outdoor bench that will be placed at Columbia.

The BHEC entered into the Trex Thin Film Plastics Challenge on June 2 on behalf of the Berkeley Heights community, placing Trex Bins located in various locations around town, including the library, the YMCA, the police station, Pet Supplies Plus, Columbia Middle School, and Governor Livingston High School.  Since that time, Berkeley Heights residents have been avidly pitching in to recycle their share of thin film plastics, amassing 602.7 pounds of thin film plastics in under two months

The Challenge is part of the Trex Recycling Program, aimed at encouraging the general public to recycle their grocery bags, bread bags, produce bags, cereal bags, ice bags, case overwrap,  bubble wrap, dry cleaning bags, Ziploc and other re-sealable bags, and similar bags and wrap for other objects. If the sponsoring group's participants collect 500 or more pounds of thin film plastics within a six-month period, Trex will send the group a Trex Outdoor Furniture 48" Yacht Club Bench.  

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Notably, the Berkeley Heights community took less than one-third of the allotted time to reach the 500 pounds milestone. Volunteers from the BHEC and from the community collected and weighed the bags in each Trex bin, reported the bags' weight to Trex, and delivered the bags to Trex's closest participating drop-off retailer location, ACME in New Providence.

The Trex Company estimates that the weight of 75 thin film plastic bags equals approximately one pound. This means that for every 500 pounds collected, a total of approximately 37,500 thin film plastic bags were collected.

Due to items in a landfill being tightly-compacted and having no access to light or air, places such as the Toronto Environmental Alliance estimate that it takes approximately 1,000 years for a plastic bag to fully break down into organic matter. Using the above methodology, Berkeley Heights residents recycled approximately 45,540 thin film plastic bags (75 x 602.7 = 45,540), saving them from going into a landfill and avoiding the millennium it would take for each bag to decay.

Also, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), plastic items can hurt or kill marine animals and takes a long time to degrade. By participating in the Challenge, Berkeley Heights residents are doing their part to promote safer marine habitats by keeping thin film plastics out of the marine environment.

The Trex Bins will remain open and in place at their current locations at this time. While the BHEC is restricted from beginning a new Challenge period until its current six-month collection window ends, the BHEC is looking to partner with other organizations that would like to use these Trex Bins to launch their own Challenges and earn additional outdoor benches for our community.  Please contact a BHEC member, or please attend the next BHEC meeting on August 6 at 7:30 p.m. in the Town Hall Conference Room.