Rochester Memorial students collect 3,327 pounds of polyethylene plastic

Apr 24, 2022

ROCHESTER — The grass isn’t the only thing getting greener this spring, thanks to the students at Rochester Memorial School. 

Over the past six months, the students collected and recycled more than 3,327 pounds of polyethylene plastic as part of the Trex Plastic Film Recycling Challenge, which concluded on Earth Day, April 22.

This total, combined with creative promotion, support from the Rochester Memorial School Parent Teacher Organization and community engagement, earned the school top honors along with a new eco-friendly bench for the school’s campus. 

Nationwide, the school placed ninth among elementary schools and 15th overall among 686 schools participating from grades K through 12. 

Hosted by Trex Company, the world’s largest manufacturer of composite decking and outdoor living products, the nationwide challenge kicked off last fall on America Recycles Day, Nov. 15. Between that observance and Earth Day, K-12 students across the country competed to collect and recycle the most polyethylene plastic film for the chance to win Trex products for their schools.

For the first time, students involved in the latest challenge also had the chance to win cash prizes, thanks to corporate sponsor Charter Next Generation, a provider of specialty polyethylene films.

“The Trex Plastic Film Recycling Challenge put our students on a mission to collect as much  recycled plastic film as they possibly could, proving a fantastic opportunity to connect and engage with our local community,” said sixth grade teacher Tracey Forns. “Each student had a lot of fun in the process, while learning a tremendous amount about the necessity and value of recycling. It was a phenomenal experience, and we are so proud of everyone’s efforts to make a positive difference within our school campus, as well as in our community.” 

Every aspect of the months-long project was tied to curriculum goals. Forrest Cote taught sixth students how to build spreadsheets and a database to track donation quantities. Paige  Teves taught students to research and write about why it is important to recycle plastic film. 

Students were grouped into specialized roles,” Forns said. “The ‘educators’ visited RMS classrooms to explain the film recycling process. The ‘public relations’ group coordinated outreach with the Joseph H. Plumb Memorial Library and provided daily in-school announcements. James DellaCioppa provided ELA support to students writing to the Council on Aging and local press. The ‘historians’ included a student who created a slideshow overview while other historians maintained paper records. ‘Graphic designers’ created print and digital media using a pro-version of Canva’’ which was funded by the  which was funded by the RMS-PTO. 

The grade 6 team thanked the the Joseph H. Plumb Memorial Library and Stop & Shop in Fairhaven for their partnership and commitment to this project-based learning endeavor. They also thanked the family volunteers who stepped up weekly to transport large quantities of plastic film.

Students from 686 schools participated in the 2021-2022 challenge and, together, collected a combined total of 323,586 pounds of polyethylene plastic film. 

For more information about the Trex Plastic Film Recycling Challenge, visit