By Jef Rietsma
At the behest of a group of Girl Scouts, the Schoolcraft Community Schools Board of Education endorsed a recycling program at its four school buildings.
Toni Rafferty, area Girl Scout manager, was joined by five Schoolcraft Elementary students at the board’s Oct. 13 meeting. The students – second graders Jozie Rafferty and Abby Hulinek, and fourth graders Carissa Riber, Sara Harington and Haley Earls – sought the board’s backing for an in-building recycling program that centers primarily on drink pouches and juice boxes.
Rafferty said based on research she has conducted, New Jersey-based TerraCycle will pay two cents per used drink pouch, box or chip bag. The ultimate goal is to generate enough money to purchase a machine that recycles the Styrofoam trays used to serve breakfast and lunch.
“Last year, my family and my Girl Scout troop collected about 1,200 juice pouches and boxes. They add up pretty quick,” Rafferty said. “Knowing these kids use them in the cafeteria and we’ve got some Girl Scouts who need to work toward their Bronze Award, I thought maybe we could start up a recycling program.”
Rafferty said the idea of a recycling program actually dates to last year when members of her Daisies group were discussing recycling and focused their attention on Styrofoam lunch trays. She said the volume of garbage created as a result of the single-use trays was “alarming.”
Research specific to Styrofoam recycling led her to the Dart Container Company, based in Ingham County.
“My thought was ‘Let’s collect these (pouches), get some money and filter it to the PTO because we can’t take (the money) as Girl Scouts,’” Rafferty said. “My girls are going to work hard and we’re going to see what we can do here.”
She noted that the funds from juice-pouch/box recycling efforts would go toward the purchase of a Styrofoam-tray recycling machine, which costs $7,000 from Dart.
Boxes in which the juice pouches are to be placed are to be set up at the Early Elementary and Elementary schools. An effort will be made to get a collection box at the middle school and potentially at the high school, Rafferty said. In addition to juice boxes, chip bags of all sizes will be sought, as they also generate two cents each.
Besides generating funds through a juice-pouch redemption, Rafferty said fundraising efforts will be held with the money going to offset the $7000 cost of the machine. A single box at the elementary school, in place on a trial basis, yielded a good quantity of juice pouches, boxes and chip bags.
“You do not have to take the straw out of the juice boxes,” she said. “You don’t have to clean them. We just ask that you make sure they’re empty. I know it’s going to take a little bit of time to do some training so people know what is OK to recycle and what isn’t.”
In all, 83 girls who attend Schoolcraft Community Schools are involved in Girl Scouts or Daisies, Rafferty said.