SOUTHINGTON — Gathering loads of toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes, floss containers and packaging earned Derynoski School a new, free playground as part of a recycling company’s national contest.
Students, parents and community members gathered more than 18,000 recyclable items and sent them to TerraCycle, a recycling company in New Jersey. The school took second place in the Northeast region contest and won a playground made of recycled materials worth $25,000.
Kelley School also took second place last year and Flanders School won the first place prize playscape in 2015.
Jill Battaglia, Derynoski PTO vice president, said the entire town came together to help the school win the contest.
Derynoski is the town’s largest elementary school.
“We’re just really excited to get some new equipment out there,” Battaglia said.
Principal Jan Verderame said the new playscape will provide more room for kids at recess.
“We have 540 children that use this every day in addition to the community,” she said. “We have a lot for them to do out there. This helps them to have more choice.”
TerraCycle works with manufacturers to reuse items that aren’t commonly recycled, such as floss containers and toothpaste tubes. The effort is funded by Colgate but any dental hygiene waste products are accepted.
The contest was sponsored by Colgate and ShopRite.
About 30 percent of the playground is made of plastic from toothbrushes, packaging and other dental products, according to Maame Mensah, TerraCycle account director. Other plastics come from milk jugs and other recyclables.School broke record
Mensah said the contest combined community voting with items recycled. Derynoski recycled far more items than the Bristol school that won first place but was outvoted.
Mensah said Derynoski gathered 30 percent more items than the entire contest collected last year.
“That’s a record breaking recycling feat that they accomplished,” she said.
Verderame said collections at Kelly and Flanders schools, in particular, helped Derynoski win the contest. She also credited Battaglia for raising support throughout town.
“We had the YMCA collecting. We had dental offices helping. It was such a community effort,” Verderame said.
The playscape will likely be installed in October. School volunteers will help build it along with an engineer from Terracycle.
Battaglia said the students threw themselves into the contest.
“They were really involved and excited,” she said. “It was great to see them learn that you can recycle things and make them into something as cool as a playground.”