The Center Moriches Free Public Library has been successful with the NexTrex® Community Recycling Challenge, though they need the community’s help to reach their goal of 500 pounds of collected plastics within six months.
As part of the program, which eventually scores the library a free a high-performance composite bench donated by Trex, library-goers are asked to drop off eligible soft plastics in the corresponding bin, located in the library’s corridor near the inside entrance to Hampton Coffee Café.
The sustainability team charged with the efforts includes Christie Matheson, Mary McNulty, Jessica Ceramello, Dominique Nason, and Marcie Litjens, as well as newcomers, Joanne Garofolo, Nadine Livoti, and Lisa Ferguson.
Earlier this year, in April, the original team noticed other libraries participating in the program and they discussed that the program might be a good way to solve and recycle some of the library’s plastic waste.
“We had just done our waste audit in April and we had determined that we have plastic ending up in our dumpster that could be recycled by using this program,” said library director Litjens, explaining why they decided to join.
The trash audit, done in March, found that one full week of collecting the garbage produced at the library (excluding restrooms) included 83.95 pounds of waste, with 17.6 percent recyclable and 3.3 percent compostable. However, the library only had one glass bottle, which can be attributed to the partnership with the Town of Brookhaven that has provided a glass recycling container on-site. A total of 4,084 patrons visit the library, with an approximate daily average of 510.5 patron visits.
“We receive so many packages and deliveries for everyday operations that are wrapped in plastic, and we never had an avenue to recycle,” added Litjens. “This program allows us to prevent this waste from entering a landfill and gives staff and the community a fun and exciting incentive to participate.”
After deciding to begin the program, Matheson took the lead in investigating, contacting the Trex company, and setting up the library as a participant. Once staff was educated on the guidelines for the program, the library began to advertise it to the community. Soon, the collection box started to be filled. Once filled, the team empties, weighs, and delivers to the designated drop-off point, which is the Stop & Shop in Shirley.
“The simplicity of enacting the NexTrex Challenge was a key factor in our decision to become a participating organization, in addition to the fact that our coastal communities here on Long Island have a vested interest in keeping plastic pollution out of our oceans and waterways,” Matheson said. “Many patrons have stated that they hadn’t realized how much plastic film waste they accumulate on a regular basis, until learning about and participating in this program. Researching the initiative was easy, as the program website clearly outlines every step and detail, and collection bins and resources were provided free of charge. Members of our in-house Sustainability Team have been bagging, weighing, logging, and dropping off all donated plastic to be recycled at local corporate partner locations every week. We are so proud of the overwhelming support and participation in this impactful program; the community response has been incredible!”
After two months of collecting, as of June, the library collected 145 pounds of recyclable plastic. By July, four months in, a total of 354 out of 500 pounds was collected, leaving only 146 pounds to reach their goal.
If the goal is met and the bench is donated, Litjens said she is unsure where it would be placed, but the placement would be discussed with the entire team.
For more information visit: nextrex.com
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