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12 Suffolk schools team with county for tons of recyclables

Efforts have helped save 84,000 gallons of water and 369.6 cubic yards of landfill.

Brentwood High School student Osiel Penera, center, helps

Brentwood High School student Osiel Penera, center, helps his fellow students and members of the Recycle Club organize plastic bottles to be recycled in April. Six Suffolk County school districts -- Brentwood, Elwood, Hampton Bays, Middle Country, Quogue and Remsenburg-Speonk -- are participating in the state recycling program. Photo Credit: Danielle Silverman

Students from 12 schools across Suffolk County recycled more than 24,380 pounds of paper and 23,320 bottles since April and are aiming for more in the new year as part of the SuffolkShare School Recycling Partnership Program, which began in April, County Executive Steve Bellone said Monday.

“These results are overwhelming and a testament to the students who have become our environmental ambassadors,” Bellone said in a news release. “I thank all of our participating school districts for working together to help meet their recycling mandate in a manner that protects the taxpayer.”

The county deployed 1,000 recycling bins to 12 schools in six school districts — Brentwood, Elwood, Hampton Bays, Middle Country, Quogue and Remsenburg-Speonk — in an effort to meet state recycling mandates, save money and provide a learning opportunity for students, according to the release. The recycling bins and supplies were purchased by the county for $100,000 and provided to the districts at no cost, county spokesman Jason Elan said.

The program was developed under Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s New York State Shared Services Initiative, allowing municipalities and school districts to be eligible for state matching funds for savings achieved through cooperative efforts, according to the release.

The county plans to apply for the matching funds, but first is working with the districts to identify how much money has been saved through the recycling program, Elan said.

The program was modeled after the Town of North Hempstead School Recycling Partnership Program, which launched in 2008.

Nearly 6,000 students have participated in the Suffolk County program to date. Each week students help empty their classroom paper bin and weigh them. Students keep track of the amount of paper that is recycled in the building, and at the end of each month announce the totals and quantify the environmental benefit, according to the release.

The efforts across all six districts since April have resulted in saving 204 trees, 287 barrels of oil, 1.726 million British thermal units, 84,000 gallons of water, 369.6 cubic yards of landfill, and prevented 720 pounds of air pollutant from being released into the environment, according to the release.

The county anticipates working with other school districts as it moves to bring the program to scale, according to the release.

“We are pleased with the lifelong habits our students are developing in the important area of environmental awareness,” Kenneth Bossert, Elwood schools superintendent and president of the Suffolk County School Superintendents Association, said in the release. “This recycling pilot program has highlighted the efforts of our students and staff members of giving back to the environment. We are hopeful that the habits developed in school will be brought into homes and businesses.”

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