BAINBRIDGE -- Teachers and students at Bainbridge Elementary used to see a lot of used Capri Sun drink pouches get thrown away.
Once they signed up to send them to a company called TerraCycle, the school began earning two cents for every one of those pouches and became part of a nationwide effort that has just reached a milestone of keeping 50 million pouches out of landfills.
Due to the schools' efforts in collecting drink pouches that TerraCycle, which makes affordable, eco-friendly products from packaging waste, and Capri Sun are recognizing it as one of the Top 100 collectors nationwide.
"Anybody that will be recognized for being in the Top 100, their passion for collecting is so appreciated," Lauren Taylor of TerraCycle said.
In addition to keeping the equivalent of the weight of 20 school buses or 480 football fields out of landfills, Capri Sun and TerraCycle have paid one million dollars to schools and non-profits in return for the recycled drink pouches.
The school has collected 30,552 pouches and earned $611.04 as part of a free nationwide program that pays schools and non-profits to collect non-recyclable waste that would otherwise go to a landfill.
Taylor said the drink pouches fulfill a variety of uses, from backpacks and tote bags to more industrial things like garbage cans, fencing and the bottoms of benches.
She said the program is beneficial in so many ways: kids and adults are educated about recycling and resource conservation and inspired to make a difference in their own community; much needed funding is provided to schools and charities and millions of pieces of packaging are saved from landfills every week.
"Kids are becoming drivers of recycling efforts in their homes, setting up bins and talking to other students," Taylor said.
More than 70,000 schools and community groups around the country have signed up to help collect almost 30 different kinds of products and packaging TerraCycle accepts. The participating organizations will collectively earn over $2 million this year.
"It's just great they've mobilized enough to collect and send it to us," Taylor said.
Any interested organizations can learn more or sign up for free today at www.terracycle.net