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West Highlands lead province in plastics recycling challenge

Cheered on by the school mascot Roary, the students of West Highlands Elementary learned they could circle around their school almost 13 times with the number of grocery bags they collected when they participated in a recycling challenge.
Cheered on by the school mascot Roary, the students of West Highlands Elementary learned they could circle around their school almost 13 times with the number of grocery bags they collected when they participated in a recycling challenge. - FILE

Out of 635 schools across Canada participating in a recycling challenge two right here in Cumberland County were given a nod from the organizers.  

Earlier this year the Recycling Council of Ontario challenged elementary students to reduce plastic waste and champion the reduce, reuse and recycle mantra. Collectively, 1.9 million single-use plastic grocery bags were collected during the Plastic Bag Grab, representing 15.23 metric tonnes of plastic.

The council offered a grand prize of $1,000 to one school in every province, and here in Amherst it was the West Highlands School who was chosen for the 3Rs Community Engagement Prize. In April staff and students not only collected more than 17,616 plastic grocery bags, but took the time and effort to tie enough of them together and circled their school with them. Had they tied all of the bags they would have circled it 13 times. 

“Students did a spectacular job engaging their communities to raise awareness about the consequences of plastic waste,” Jo-Anne St. Godard, Executive Director, Recycling Council of Ontario, said. “Their enthusiasm and commitment is evidence that we can eliminate our reliance on single-use plastic.”

In Springhill, the staff and students were given recognition for their participation when the Recycling Council announce their provincial winners.

Walmart partnered with the council to accept the sing-use grocery bags and ensure they were recycled.

“Walmart is committed to reducing the environmental impact of plastic bags, both in our stores and through our support of initiatives like the Plastic Bag Grab Challenge,” said Lee Tappenden, president and CEO, Walmart Canada. “The students involved in this challenge took it on with such enthusiasm and determination, putting a real voice to this important sustainability issue. We are incredibly proud to support their efforts.”

To maintain value of the material collected in the Plastic Bag Grab and to ensure full traceability, every plastic bag collected in the challenge is processed and remanufactured in North America for use in new products, including plastic lumber

“Over-consumption and improper management of plastic waste is a global threat, and jurisdictions around the world are becoming more and more focused on plastic pollution. As the Plastic Bag Grab Challenge demonstrates, engagement, empowerment and early learning are fundamental to meaningful action,” continued St. Godard.

For a complete list of Nova Scotia schools that took part in the challenge, as well as select photos and videos, visit plasticbaggrab.com/2018-results.

Quick Stats on Plastics

  • One billion single-use plastic bags are handed out in Canada every year 

  • Nearly two million single-use plastic bags are distributed worldwide every minute 

  • 57 million single-use plastic straws are thrown out every day 

  • 8.3 billion metric tonnes of plastic has been generated around the world since 1953; 6.3 billion 
tonnes has gone to waste 

  • 8 million tonnes of plastic enters the oceans every year 

  • More than 5 trillion pieces of plastic are already floating in our oceans. 

  • 91 per cent of all plastic waste isn’t recycled

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