Recycling program hits snag
Company that recycles foam lunch trays closes

COVINGTON - Newton County public schools keep running into issues in their effort to reduce their carbon footprint.

In early November, the school system kicked off a Styrofoam tray recycling program at its elementary schools that is scheduled to save the system at least $85,000 annually by reducing its landfill costs, trash pick up and use of Dumpsters.

Newton County School System officials, who currently don't use recycled trays, hoped to purchase them to further enhance their "Go Green" initiative, but the cost of the recycled trays is too much for their strict budget. Instead, they planned to take their bulk of foam trays to a recycling center to be made into foam pellets to be used for trays and other products after students and staff use and clean them.

This month, the system's recycling program ran into another problem - the recycling center that the school system planned to use no longer accepts Styrofoam trays.

"The company, Evergreen Partnering Group out of Gwinnett County, became insolvent the very week that the Newton County tray recycling program began," said Jan Loomans, director of school nutrition for NCSS.

She said NCSS discovered this when they attempted to make a delivery the first week of the collection program, the week of Nov. 17.

"We received no official communication but found the business closed. An employee on site stated that he was attempting to remove his personal belongings from the building before the business closed," Loomans said. "Through further investigation, we have learned that the company is no longer in business."

Loomans said the schools still are collecting foam trays for future recycling as they look for other companies.

"NCSS Maintenance Department collects the trays on a daily basis from each elementary school. Currently, they are being stored in a tractor trailer on school system property. When the container is full, a recycling company picks up the trailer and delivers it to a recycling facility," Loomans said. "We are exploring options with other companies. We are committed to making this Styrofoam tray recycling program work for our school system and our community."

Over the 20 days that the system has collected trays, the system had the opportunity to collect 159,560 lunch trays and 81,001 breakfast trays, Loomans said Friday.

She is encouraging everyone at the schools to continue collecting trays as usual.

"Keep Covington/Newton Beautiful and the Newton County School System are committed to continuing the program and ensuring that trays are being properly handled," she said. "No trays are going into the landfill; all trays are being recycled."

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.