Eight years ago, Green Tree Plastics of Evansville, IN, created a grassroots recycling effort, and it continues to grow. The company reports that it has “quietly amassed an army of children across America who recycle plastics for a good cause and in turn remove plastic waste from the environment.” The initiative is called the ABC Promise Partnership and provides a vehicle to assist youth organizations in collecting plastic closures for recycling and eventual reuse in the manufacture of various outdoor bench products.
According to Cara Bernfeld, Vice President of Green Tree, “The ABC Partnership was started by kids for kids and is meant to be an educational tool for any adults managing youth organizations. It offers the opportunity to learn the value of recycling and being a good caretaker of the environment.”
To facilitate this effort, Green Tree’s website has a complete guide to assist the organizations in starting up a project, outlining acceptable cap types, and ordering/delivery instructions. They also use social media to highlight and showcase successful projects.
By collecting and sorting enough discarded plastic caps, the kids can purchase various bench products, such as picnic benches, park benches, buddy benches, etc., from Green Tree at discounted prices. Participating groups can include day cares, Sunday schools, elementary/middle/high schools, YMCAs and YWCAs, scout groups, boys and girls clubs, sports teams, choirs, etc.
“Our program is not just about gathering caps and making benches, says Bernfeld. “At the core of the program is the process of children learning to manage a project with specific goals, working with adult mentors, networking within their neighborhoods and community, and finally, instilling an energy and spirit about their role as a steward of the environment”.
To date, Green Tree has worked with more than 5,000 youth organizations across 33 states and has made over 15,000 benches over the last eight years.