Cashing in plastic: Bottle caps, container lids reborn as park benches

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Sixty pounds of plastic bottle caps and container lids collected. Only 140 more pounds to collect.

Yorkville resident Kerin Harris is gathering plastic bottle caps and container lids for recycling as a second park bench.

Harris, 81, is a part-time cook at Senior Services Associates, which meets at the Beecher Center in Yorkville.

When she’s not making egg-salad sandwiches, baking stuffed peppers or washing dishes for senior lunches, she’s soliciting plastic coverings for recycling as park benches.

Harris has placed a 4-foot-long park bench from recycled plastics at her church, Trinity United Methodist Church in Yorkville. Over six months, she collected 200 pounds of plastic for the initial bench. Now she has begun gathering another 200 pounds of plastic for a second bench.

“I asked everyone I know to donate bottle caps,” Harris said.

She explained she collected about 10 55-gallon trash bags of plastic to create a bench.

A four-year cook at SSA Yorkville, Harris got the recycling idea after seeing how many plastic bottle caps and lids pass through the Beecher Center kitchen.

Green Tree Plastics in Evansville, Indiana, manufactured the Yorkville bench.

The firm specializes in recycling plastics collected by school and nonprofit groups to create durable products for industrial, agricultural and residential products.

Plastic donations may be made to Harris at the Beecher Center, 908 Game Farm Road in Yorkville. Acceptable plastics include medicine-bottle caps, milk-jug caps, detergent caps, hairspray caps, toothpaste-tube caps and others marked with 2, 4 or 5 recycle numbers.

Acceptable lids include those from cottage cheese containers, mayo or peanut butter jars, ice cream buckets and butter containers plus prescription bottles with labels removed.