An interlocal agreement between Copperas Cove Independent School District and the city has diverted almost 1,000 pounds of plastic from landfills and partnered the two entities in developing more environmentally friendly practices.

“The students take (recycling) very seriously,” said Olga Peña, a spokeswoman for the school district. “Their bins are always full.”

Since 2010, the city and the school district have run a cost-sharing agreement to collect and recycle plastic bottles.

During the 2010 school year, students collected nearly 500 pounds of plastic. During the 2011 year, they collected about 480 pounds.

That is an estimated 17,000 bottles recycled by students, said Silvia Rhoads, Copperas Cove’s recycling coordinator.

The money raised by recycling isn’t a lot, about $10 for both years to each entity, Rhoads said, but the program isn’t about making money.

A starting point

It’s a starting point for a recycling partnership to teach children about sustainable practices and help them be lifelong recyclers, Rhoads said, adding that she hopes students pass Earth-kind practices to their parents.

“This is a very good stating point, and it is going really well,” she said.

Peña said the program has been a success at the high school level and the district looks forward to expanding the program with the city.

Copperas Cove is working on moving its recycling efforts to a single-stream program, which allows for all recyclables to be placed in one container without sorting.

If the city moves to a single-stream system, the school district will be included in its collections routes, Rhoads said.

Right now, the schools are handling their own recycling, and the city only collects plastic bottles from the district.

Pilot program

A pilot program for a single-stream system has been developed by the city and includes one elementary school so it will have an accurate sampling of how the process would work, Rhoads said. While residents in those areas will be given 96-gallon cans, the schools will probably be given additional containers when the program starts.

The bottle program has been a wonderful precursor to any future partnership between the two entities because it proved the process works, Rhoads said.

“We really wanted to start a partnership with the recycling program,” she said. “We really wanted to get together and pull our resources.”

Plastic bottles are collected in the school’s cafeteria as well as throughout the building by the Interact Club, the youth version of the Rotary Club, Rhoads said.

“That shows their responsibility,” she said, noting the students do a great job collecting and cleaning the bottles. “They are giving us the best plastic that we get.”

Contact Mason W. Canales at or (254) 501-7474

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