Five men stood on a conveyor belt sorting through 500 pounds of Mini Moo milk jugs Friday as students from two schools in Raleigh County, having excelled in their recycling efforts over the last month, watched. 

It was a big day at the E. Paul Barley Recycling & Education Center at the Raleigh County Solid Waste Authority Friday as students from Beckley Elementary and Beckley-Stratton Middle School saw their hard work in action as the thousand of Mini Moo milk jugs they collected came pouring out of a large white recycling bin. 

Out the recycling bin the jugs went, up the conveyor belt to be sorted, and transferred out to be made into new, reusable products. 

The two schools "Green Teams" have worked since October 3 to collect all their cartons to make sure the refuse didn't end up in the garbage and the landfill, where the plastic would never disintegrate as decomposable garbage does.  

Members of the Green Teams sat on the floor of the E. Paul Barley Recycling & Education Center with their noses and fingers pressed against the large glass windows overlooking the recycling center. They awaited for the doors of the recycling bin to bust open, and once they did, the students laughed and cheered over the sight of their hard work. 

Sherrie Hunter, director of education at the center, gave the students a lesson on what it truly means to recycle, and all the good that can come of it. Within the 43,000 square foot recycling center, $15 million worth of heavy equipment allows workers to sort through all the recyclable materials such as paper, plastic and cardboard before the trash heads off to be made into a gift, or some other object for reuse. 

"We don't like to throw away recyclable materials here, especially plastic," Hunter said to the students. "When we see other people that do, we tell them, 'What a waste!' " 

The two schools were specifically chosen for the plastic recycling pilot program due to the large amounts of milk cartons they use, Hunter said, and after Friday, they've decided to continue the program indefinitely. 

"They have worked so hard to gather all of those jugs and I am just so proud of them," she said. "They have worked so well with us, and the principals and staff at both schools were so accepting of us, and we can't wait to continue the program." 

Due to their hard work and dedication, each student was sent home with a book titled "The Adventures of a Plastic Bottle," to further explain recycling from a different perspective.  

— Email: jnelson@register-herald.com; follow on Twitter @jnelsonRH

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