Patuxent Valley Middle School is partnering with the Can Manufacturers Institute for the Great American Can Roundup to raise money to build a rain garden, wherein rainwater runoff from the roof, concrete and other impervious surfaces surrounding the school will be collected.
In an effort to foster education about sustainability and recycling, students are collecting aluminum cans from the community from now until April in a wooden bin built by the Green Club. Beverage cans from student and teacher consumption will comprise the other half of the collections.
Patuxent Valley teachers hope the Roundup will encourage students to protect the environment in the future, according to science teacher Anne Fichter, head of the program.
"It's important, I think, for our school because it promotes environmental learning, and it's something that I think this generation is going to have to take into consideration when they're adults," Fichter said.
Each participating school has the opportunity to win up to $6,000 in prizes from the Can Manufacturers Institute, in addition to money earned from the recycling center. Even if Patuxent does not win the contest, Fichter says she expects the school to make at least $200 from recycling efforts.
"We are excited about the opportunity for Patuxent Valley Middle School to show their true green spirit and environmental leadership by rallying their school and the community to recycle the most aluminum beverage cans per capita," said CMI Director of Recycling, Jenny Day.
"By educating them at a younger age I hope that it will instill a sense of stewardship in them to help protect our natural resources," Fichter added.
Fichter teaches her students about The Chesapeake Bay and the importance of protecting its valuable resources, by limiting runoff and waste contributions. She stresses that humans play an important role in protecting the environment through sustainability and recycling.
According to the Wastecare Corporation website, the demand for aluminum is growing. Companies who specialize in aluminum recycling are changing and growing their business to accommodate the needs of the market.
CMI, the trade association for the metal and composite can manufacturing industry, accounts for more than 81 percent of annual production in the U.S., claims their website.
Since aluminum cans are infinitely recyclable, and can be put back on store shelves in as few as 60 days, the Roundup contributes to social, economic and environmental benefits, Day says.
Recycling aluminum takes 95 percent less energy than it does to create aluminum cans from raw materials, and thus, greenhouse emissions and energy consumption is 95 percent less, Day says.
Community members can track the school's progress here. They are encouraged to donate cans through their children and relatives, or by dropping off clean, dry, aluminum beverage cans in the recycling bin outside of Patuxent Valley Middle School.