ECHUCA 208 Primary School students were treated to a spectacle on Monday when the Vivid Work Crew came to collect and compact the first load of soft plastic recycling.
The students were watching as five bins full of their discarded wrappers were being baled up into two bales and taken away to be recycled and used for new plastic products.
The program is a result of a partnership between Campaspe Shire, One and All Inclusion Project, Vivid, the Bushtracker Owners Group, Veolia and Newtecpoly and will have schools around the district recycling soft plastics to be used to make outdoor furniture, bollards, garden edging and One and All’s signature ‘buddy bench’.
Students are collecting soft plastics, which can’t be recycled in household collection bins, and putting them in bins at school with orange lids for collection and baling by Vivid.
The program will extend to most primary schools in the district, with Echuca 208 being the first to receive a buddy bench and the first soft plastic recycling collection.
The buddy bench is a seat for students to go to when they need a friend or someone to talk to — staff or fellow students can then check in on the student.
And soon, most of our primary schools will have a seat.
‘‘It’s exciting to see the first bales happening and we’re starting to get the benches out to more schools,’’ One and All Inclusion Project’s Sharnee McCoy said.
‘‘The students and teachers are really excited and the schools we’ve been to have had a great understanding of what soft plastics are.
‘‘It’s also good with the on-site baling for the students to see how it all works. The program is good for the community, environment and it’s educational — the kids really understand it and love it.
‘‘Getting the seats made is thanks to generous sponsorship from the Bushtracker Owners Group and Campaspe Shire funding.’’
The idea came about after the need for a Campaspe Shire initiative to ‘close the loop’ for soft plastics recycling was recognised.
Simultaneously, One and All Inclusion had received funding for their buddy benches, and the two organisations then began the collaboration.
Campaspe Shire environmental education officer Samantha Ferrier said the partnership with Vivid was another way to assist the community.
‘‘Vivid has been helping with soft plastic recycling and mattress recycling at the Echuca Environment Centre, with a compactor out there and another for the mattress foam, which is used for carpet underlay,’’ Ms Ferrier said.
‘‘And so Vivid is a large part of this program.’’
Flip Evans, Vivid enterprise and inclusion manager said the program provides employment for the Work Crew supported employees to earn an income and assist the community.
‘‘It’s another great partnership we have with Campaspe Shire and educates students about recycling and the work Vivid — which employs close to 60 people — does,’’ he said.
The buddy bench program will be extended to 12 primary schools including all Echuca primary schools, Moama Public School, St Patrick’s Tongala, Tongala Primary School, Rochester Primary School, St Joseph’s Rochester and Lockington Consolidated School.