Iowa schools, parks to benefit from plastic bag recycling initiative led by Iowa grocers
With over 36 entries in 2011, the grant program holds a promising outlook for 2012. This year, the program will provide up to $40,000 in grants to aid Iowa schools and parks, helping local communities generate funds necessary to purchase recycled plastic outdoor furniture and equipment. The idea is to connect the money from the Build with Bags Grant Program with efforts across the state to increase plastic bag recycling.
It’s an innovative approach that will give Iowans a first-hand look at what happens to their recycled plastic bags, and Build with Bags Program sponsors and participants believe it will effectively demonstrate how recycled plastic bags can be re-used.
“We want to show people what can be done with plastic bags when they are recycled properly,” said Fleagle. “This program will provide that opportunity and give tangible examples of the positives that result from recycling plastic bags.”
Originally launched in 2009, the Build with Bags program was established to change consumer habits and create awareness for plastic bag recycling.
As a cooperative effort among the Iowa Grocery Industry Association, Keep Iowa Beautiful, Metro Waste Authority in Des Moines, Iowa Department of Natural Resources and The Des Moines Register, the program has four main goals: (1) Double the amount of plastic bags recycled over a 24-month period; (2) Reduce consumption of plastic bags; (3) Increase use of reusable bags; and (4) Encourage purchases of furniture and equipment made from recycled plastic through a grant program for parks and schools.
We’re striving to give Iowans a recognizable name and philosophy that will bring long-term success to the program and the recycling of plastic bags,” said Jerry Fleagle, president of the Iowa Grocery Industry Association.
One component of the Build with Bags Program that Iowa stands to benefit from is its grant program and school recycling challenge. The grant program was developed to support Build with Bags’ primary goal of increasing plastic bag recycling. It was initiated to support “closing the plastic bag loop” by demonstrating how recycled plastic bags can be re-used in the manufacturing of outdoor furniture and equipment.
“Build with Bags can be a viable option that people all around the country are looking for,” Fleagle said. “The grant program gives communities a strong incentive to recycle plastic bags and the school recycling challenge is great evidence of what can be accomplished with the proper level of support and participation.”
All governmental entities, schools and organizations (i.e. service clubs or non-profits) within Iowa are able to apply for funding through the grant program to aid in the purchase of items for a school or park. A maximum award of $2,000 is available with each applicant being limited to one application or project per year.
“Communities all across Iowa stand to benefit from the Build with Bags Grant Program,” said Gerry Schnepf, executive director of Keep Iowa Beautiful. “Schools and parks that may have difficulty in purchasing outdoor furniture and equipment now have an opportunity to do so. And it’s an opportunity through a program that supports our environment.”
Grant information and posters are being distributed by Keep Iowa Beautiful to organizations across the state, and grocery stores are being asked to spread the message within their stores and communities.
Applications are currently being accepted for the 2012 calendar year. Details on how to apply, as well as selection criteria, are outlined online at www.itseasytorecycle.org and www.iowagrocers.com. The deadline to apply for a Build with Bags grant is March. Awards will be announced on April 23, the day after Earth Day.
“Grocery stores have long provided a means to recycle plastic bags so they could be reused as other materials,” Fleagle said. “The Build with Bags Grant Program can only aid those efforts.”
For more information on Build with Bags or its grant program opportunities, please visit www.itseasytorecycle.org or www.iowagrocers.com.