Proud Hillsborough County students recycle milk cartons

Students at Chiles Elementary in Tampa are excited about recycling.

"I try to recycle as much as I can in my own lunch bag," said 5th Grader Shiva Ranganathan.

"I helped make that because I recycled, and now that stuff that is getting recycled is getting reused," said 4th Grader Raquel Conner.

One small change in the cafeteria makes recycling milk cartons easy. Hillsborough County goes through a lot of them.

According to the Carton Council, Hillsborough County goes through 26 million cartons each year.

"We can dump it out in one of the containers with the funnel," said 4th Grader Jacob Teitler.

Chiles Elementary is one of three schools in Hillsborough County which now recycles milk cartons. With help from a grant by the Carton Council, the new program is a huge success.

"I'm hoping of course that all of the schools will recycle the cartons by next year. The milk cartons are made out of a high-grade version fiber paper, and it's very recyclable," said Barbara Heineken, Carton Council's school recycling coordinator.

"I've been here since kindergarten so after six years now we've finally been able to do this, and so we're wasting a lot less," said 5th Grader Will Starr.

It makes it easier for the custodians to clean up, too.

"The garbage is lighter and less messy. It attracts less bugs," Heineken said.

"I started convincing my mom and now we're convincing our neighbors in our neighborhood," said 5th Grader Khyasalexander Smith.

"I think we're making a difference," said Bethany Bosworth.

Since milk carton recycling started in September at Chiles Elementary School, 50,000 milk cartons have been recycled. The Carton Council is in talks with Pinellas County Schools about adopting a program too.