The only thing harder than getting the straw into a Capri Sun juice pouch is keeping that pouch out of a landfill once you’re done with it. Along with other school-lunch staples like chip bags and juice boxes, those pouches are rarely accepted by traditional recycling programs either because they break down too slowly for municipal composting or because they are partly composed of non-recyclable materials that are difficult to separate out.
Getting Kids Recycling
The kids at San Antonio’s Saint Margaret Mary Catholic School on the South Side weren’t content to let un-recycled juice pouches lie. For two years, the students have been diligently collecting the pouches as part of TerraCycle’s Drink Pouch Brigade. TerraCycle is a company that’s taken the recycling world by storm, specializing in dealing with materials that traditional recycling programs can’t accept and turning them into a variety of products that can also be recycled when they’re no longer needed. Committed to making recycling an everyday part of life, TerraCycle partnered with Capri Sun and Honest Kid brands to create the Drink Pouch Brigade as a way to keep those pouches out of landfills while helping to inspire more school recycling programs.
But the kids earn more than just a good work ethic and a greater appreciation for the benefits of reducing waste. As a reward for their hard work, TerraCycle makes a monetary donation to schools and other charitable organizations for every 5 pounds (approximately 430 pouches) of recycling they send in.
Getting Kids Recycling Pays Off
At the end of this school year, the students at Saint Margaret Mary hit a major milestone in their recycling program: 10,000 drink pouches saved from the landfill. To accomplish this feat, the students, led by language arts teacher David Schott, have been meticulously collecting empty pouches during and after lunch each day, making sure that nobody heads for the garbage cans with a pouch in hand. Many students went a step further, bringing in pouches from home rather than letting them be thrown out.
So far, their efforts have earned the school $600. That student-earned money has gone right back into students’ hands, in the form of field trips, art supplies, and other experiences that normally would have been outside the school’s budget.
With that milestone reached, the school recycling program is still going strong, and students plan to continue their collection efforts next year. We’re very excited to see what their next 10,000 pouches will bring them!