It is a unique plastic recycling plant, one that has been created inside a shipping container on the grounds of a Kelowna high school.
“For the students that started this project, it was really recognizing the problem,” said Grade 12 student Keneisha Charles, one of the students who started the project.
“We are seeing a lot more awareness about plastic, especially through social media, and we see a lot of those viral videos of ocean plastic and the effects of it.”
The project got off the ground thanks to a group of Rutland Senior Secondary students after they won $5,000 in a district-wide sustainable development challenge.
The students were able to secure other grants and community donations, including the shipping container, which was donated by BigSteelBox.
The $43,000 project has been two years in the making.
“We’re taking things that would normally be sent to landfill from our community . . . a lot of food waste, yogurt containers, slushy containers, drink containers, plastic wrap,” Charles said.
“We are turning trash into treasure.”
The 40-foot container is fully equipped with all the equipment necessary to sort plastic, wash it, shred it and melt it down. The material is then reprocessed into useful products.
“Plant pots, necklaces, baskets,” Charles said.
Charles said the students are planning to sell the items with the proceeds going back into the recycling operation.
“We are very proud of these young innovators because they saw a global problem and collaborated with their community to create a local solution,” said Kevin Kaardal, superintendent of school district No. 23.
“They’ve created a legacy project that will in turn empower other learners long after they graduate.”
The students involved said they hope to raise more awareness about the problem of plastic ending up in our landfills and oceans.
“This is our future we are talking about, this is our planet and we want to be able to pass that on and to be able to have a planet to enjoy,” Charles said.