Columbia team arranges recycling at fire stations

MADISON – Residents now can recycle plastic bottle caps in bins at Madison fire stations. Columbia Elementary School students proposed and coordinated the recycling innovation.

Puja Chopade, Neha Chopade and Timothy Zhu led the project after discovering that bottle caps do not qualify as other plastics, paper and materials that Madison residents place in their blue recycle bins each week.

During research into this environmental problem, “We observed that people in our community recycle plastic bottles, along with their plastic caps in their recycling bin. The recycling agency that is in charge of taking the contents of the blue bins, however, does not take the plastic bottle caps,” Zhu said for his team.

Residents can deposit bottle caps in yellow recycle bins located at all Madison City Fire Stations; the addresses are 101 Mill Road (at City Hall); 1227 Hughes Road; and 12266 County Line Road. When the bins are full, workers will transport bottle caps to a warehouse in Huntsville and then move the caps for recycling at K.W. Plastics in Troy.

Team advisor Beena Chopade said some of the country’s leaders today doubt that humans impact the environment. “It is refreshing and very encouraging to find a progressive and supportive leader in a small town of Madison, Alabama who did not think twice to back the leaders of tomorrow in their endeavor to enlighten every resident of Madison to do their part for their environment.”

“We are very thankful for our Mayor Paul Finley’s support in making our project a reality,” Beena Chopade said.

The plastic caps end up either in landfills from peoples’ garbage or in waterways harming various types of aquatic life, Zhu said. “Either way, there is a negative environmental impact since. There is no proper recycling for plastic caps in our community.”

Puja Chopade, Neha Chopade and Timothy Zhu presented their findings to Madison City Council at its Aug. 14 meeting. Council members acknowledged the students for their civic efforts.

In addition, the Columbia team participated in the eCybermission Challenge that the Army Educational Outreach Program sponsored and won first in Alabama in the six-grade division. Columbia students also earned first-place honors for the entire Southeast region of United States and were national finalists.

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