The NexTrex Plastic Film Recycling Challenge is an effort to have the people of Athens and surrounding areas recycle plastic more.

This collaborative project is bringing together several Lions Clubs, including Athens, Alexander and The Plains. Each group is trying to collect plastic in order to keep it out of landfills and put it to better use. In order to start recycling again in Athens, plastic will be collected at multiple locations throughout the local areas. 

Plastic collections include, but are not limited to, clean plastic film produce bags, store bags, ice bags, reclosable bags, bread bags, newspaper bags and bubble wrap. For every 500 pounds the club collects, it will receive one polymer-composite park bench for the city of Athens from NexTrex.

“I just strongly believe in getting all this plastic out of the landfill,” Nancy Clark, vice president of the Athens Area Lions Club, said. “I have talked with a lot of the recycling people while working on this, and there's just not a way to do it right now on a large scale. We do what we can, when we can. It's been a wonderful experience.”

Clark also added Athens’ local Kroger has barrels in its lobby where people can once again start recycling their plastic bags. 

“If you have recyclables, you should definitely take them anywhere you can that is accepting it,” Clark said.

Plastic can also be dropped off at Mac's Work Wear, 940 E. State St., or All American Trophies, 92 N. Plains Road. 

“It's turned into a lot bigger project, and a lot more people are getting involved than what we thought would,” Jim McClaren, the owner of Mac's Work Wear and a member of the Athens Area Lions Club, said. “We thought we'd be getting little amounts of plastic, and we were hoping to get enough to get 500 pounds, which is what you need to get one of the benches. We've gone way past that. The community has been really good about responding a lot more than what we thought we would get.”

Every amount of plastic makes a difference, and donating can lead to becoming more aware of what can be recycled and what cannot.

Other clubs around Athens are participating in this challenge, including The Plains Lions Club, Alexander Lions Club and Alexander Leo Club.

“The plastic doesn't go anywhere, so it just stays in the landfill,” Jenn Davies, vice president of the Alexander Lions Club, said. “It can't be recycled or used in other means, for the most part. Taking care of our environment — which is one of the pillars of the Lions Club — we have to take care of it if we want it to be around for a while.”

Davies is proud of how much plastic her club has collected and encourages other clubs to participate in this challenge and make it an ongoing event.

Clark, McClaren and Davies believe this challenge will help better the environment. Athens’ challenge ends May 15, so the Lions Clubs encourage all members of Athens to recycle what they can, whenever they can. 

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