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Recycling pays off for Maxwell Elementary

Maxwell Elementary School pupils are saving the world. And they recently received an award for their efforts.

TerraCycle Inc. named the school among the Top 100 in the nation for recycling drink pouches. Lauren Taylor, of TerraCycle, said Maxwell Elementary was ranked because it had collected 44,517 drink pouches by October.

"Obviously, the children there are passionate about recycling and aware of what steps they can take to protect the environment," Ms. Taylor said. "It's great to see them taking part in such a large-scale project."

A certificate in a frame made from shredded drink pouches was sent to the school and presented during a faculty meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 19. Maxwell Elementary was one of only four elementary schools in Georgia to receive the recognition, according to Ms. Taylor.

TerraCycle provides free waste-collection programs for hard-to-recycle materials. The company transforms the waste into affordable green products, according to its Web site. The company recently reached a milestone. It has collected 50 million drink pouches -- the equivalent to 20 school buses in weight, 480 football fields in length, enough to stretch across the Grand Canyon nine times if laid side-by-side.

"So, the children at Maxwell Elementary helped because the 44,000 they collected contributed to that," Ms. Taylor said.

TerraCycle collects drink pouches, soda bottles, chip bags, candy and gum wrappers, zip-close bags, cheese wrappers, coffee containers and Lunchable containers and turns them into tote bags, lunch bags, book bags, coolers, clipboards, picture frames, bottles, fences and other items, which are sold at Target, Kmart, Walmart, The Home Depot and via its Web site,

Three parent volunteers -- Judith Hodges, Alice Gary and Karen Norman -- spend two days every week sorting the trash.

"Last year, we could count it all in a day," Ms. Hodges said. "But this year it takes us two days. So it's growing. The kids are kind of catching on."

Large laundry hampers are set up in the cafeteria as collection stations, and each teacher also has a mesh basket in the classroom to collect empty drink pouches during snack time.

And everybody wins -- the pupils are enjoying their drinks; the landfills receive less waste; and the school is earning money. Maxwell Elementary had earned $890.34 as of October through its drink pouch brigade.

Last year, the money was used to replenish the school's supply of copy paper when it ran out before the end of the school year and there was no money in the budget to buy more.

This year, Ms. Hodges said, the teachers already are running out of paper to line their bulletin boards. So she will use the money to buy more rolls of paper.

"I think people are really excited about the program. They are seeing all the school supplies we were able to buy last year and want to help," she said. "Bulletin board paper is something that's not considered a necessity as far as the budget is concerned, so we're helping with it."

Thomson Elementary and Norris Elementary schools also collect trash for TerraCycle. The schools also get money by collecting Campbell's soup labels, General Mills box tops, Coke Rewards, old ink cartridges and old cell phones.

For more information on TerraCycle, visit

For more information on how to help the schools' recycling programs, call Maxwell Elementary at (706) 986-4800, Thomson Elementary at (706) 986-4700 or Norris Elementary at (706) 986-4600.

Web posted on Thursday, January 27, 2011

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