By Joshua Lucero
Students and teachers at Ranchvale Elementary School have found a way to recycle their lunches, or more specifically, their lunch containers.
Ranchvale was named the number one recycler of lunch kits — lunch kits including Lunchables and similar pre-packaged lunch products — in New Mexico by Trenton, New Jersey-based recycler TerraCycle Inc., according to a press release from the company.
At the beginning of the 2013-14 school year, the Ranchvale Parent Activity Committee teamed up with TerraCycle to participate in two of the recycler’s waste collection programs, according to Ranchvale principal Renee Mestas.
Mestas said Ranchvale participated in TerraCycle’s Lunch Kit and Drink Pouch Brigades.
The school collected 794 lunch kits and 3,693 drink pouches during the school year Mestas said.
Mestas said the waste collection earned the school 1,588 points through TerraCycle, which translated to $89.74 to be used for student incentives.
Klover Cross, a Ranchvale PAC member, said TerraCycle partners with companies like Lunchables and Capri-Sun to collect difficult to recycle waste for reuse in products ranging from lunch boxes to tote bags.
As part of the partnership, companies pay for the shipping of waste from the collection location to TerraCycle, she said.
“The (TerraCycle) recycling programs are a way for the school to give back instead of just taking in money through fundraising.” said Mestas.
Cross said the brigade recycling programs are simple to do, needing only to set up collection bins for the children to put their used items in and then sending the bins to TerraCycle at the end of each month.
TerraCycle pays 2¢ for every piece of qualified waste sent to the company if the shipment exceeds five pounds, said Cross.
According to TerraCycle’s website, shipments weighing more that 58 pounds pay 3¢ per piece of qualified waste.
According to Cross, every child attending the school can participate by putting their trash into the designated recycling bins placed in the cafeteria.
“The primary purpose of the program is to recycle.” said Cross.
Cross said the Ranchvale PAC will continue the two TerraCycle recycling programs and has plans to begin collecting for the recycler’s Writing Instruments Brigade during the 2014-15 school year.