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Neighbors of Kane County

J.B. Nelson School taking trash to new levels

Feb 24, 2017 12:28PM ● By Neighbors Magazines

Did you know that there is recycling and then there’s TerraCycling? J.B. Nelson Elementary School students, parents, and staff have known this for years. Every day, JBN students and staff fill bins throughout the school with trash deemed “hard to recycle,” which is TerraCycle’s specialty.

Items such as empty toothpaste tubes, floss containers, energy bar wrappers, cereal bags, Britta filters and more are collected and brought in by the JBN community, sorted by student volunteers every two months after school, and shipped to TerraCycle using the recycling company’s free shipping labels. In return, JBN earns monetary rewards.

JBN LRC Director Julie Phillips heads up the TerraCycle program at JBN along with parent volunteer, Heather Wnek.

“At the beginning of each new school year, we educate students and staff about the differences between garbage, recycling and TerraCycling,” said Phillips. “We use picture clues all around the school and special baskets that help everyone identify TerraCycling in the lunchroom and classrooms. We also select student captains for each lunch hour to answer fellow students’ questions about how to sort their lunchroom waste in the TerraCycle bins and to keep an eye on the process.”

JBN families help at home, too. Over winter break, more than 30 families returned empty Trader Joe’s bags filled with TerraCycle-worthy trash.

The TerraCycle program at JBN was started four years ago by a BPS101 parent, Jodie Pufundt, who is passionate about recycling. Phillips, who is also passionate about recycling, took over the project after Pufundt’s daughter graduated from JBN.

Soon after Phillips got involved, she launched a schoolwide Big 6 research project on recycling and held schoolwide sorting sessions.

“When students actually sort the items and have to choose whether an item goes into the garbage, recycling bin, or TerraCycle bin, they learn more,” said Phillips.

Since the TerraCycle program launched at JBN four years ago, the school has earned $2,390.