Taking on plastic waste

Students at Rutland Secondary School are tackling the problem of plastic waste head on.

This week, the school held its grand opening of Operation Take Two, an on-site recycling program almost two years in the making.

The program, now with its own workspace inside a shipping container thanks to a donation by BigSteelBox, breaks down all sorts of plastic waste and melts it down, turning it into a variety of new items.

The concept has its roots in the school's Rotary-sponsored Interact Club back in September 2017.

“It really started with our group in the club recognizing a problem, and the problem is the global problem of plastic waste,” said Keneisha Charles, one of the Grade 12 members of the program.

“We really wanted to do something about it, so we ended up doing some research and we came across this concept.”

The idea came from a European organization called Precious Plastics.

“They provide all this open source online, their blueprints and resources, so we saw that and we adopted the project for our community,” Charles said.

The students have raised over $32,000 through grants and donations, and just last month, several of them flew to Toronto to pitch their program on the Dragon's Den television show.

Charles says they can't say much about how it went, but if their segment does get aired, they expect it on TV sometime next fall.

On Wednesday, a group of middle school students were given a tour of the facility, located in the courtyard at RSS.

“Our ultimate goal is thinking big picture,” Charles said. “Waste is everyone's problem, not just our community, so we really want to empower youth in new places and start workspaces there.”

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