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Schools key partners in recycling

December 16, 2012
By MICHAEL ANICH , The Leader Herald

It seems everybody wins with paper recycling, and that appears especially true for school districts in Fulton and Montgomery counties working with a private company toward that end.

US Green Fiber, based in Hagaman, is increasing its relationships with schools throughout the Capital Region.

Once of the bonded insulation company's latest outreach efforts this school year is with the Wheelerville Union Free School District. New Superintendent Richard Ruberti Jr. contacted the company when he wanted to start a "Good Citizen Award" program at the school.

Article Photos

Wheelerville School Superintendent Richard Ruberti holds up the lid of a recycling container on the Caroga school’s property for fifth-graders Jason Johnson, left, and Julianna Wager as they recycle paper products on Thursday. (The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan)

"The way the program works is we give them a green [container] for just paper," said Green Fiber Recycling Coordinator Kelli Driessen. "And we give them a small stipend."

That stipend comes out to about $25 per ton of paper collected, Driessen said.

In a typical school arrangement with Green Fiber, the Wheelerville school has two recycling bins outside its Route 10 building. The 130 students and the staff are encouraged to recycle at school and even bring paper goods from home to drop off. They are deposited in the bins and eventually picked up by the company. US Green Fiber, in turn, pays for $5 prize coupons that the school gives to students for its Good Citizen Awards.

Green Fiber recycles the paper, grinding it up and using it to create blown-in insulation.

"We get a check each month," Ruberti said.

He said he got the idea to join Green Fiber's recycling program when he was with the Ballston Spa school district.

Ruberti said Green Fiber works with a number of schools in the area, including the Amsterdam school district, Gloversville high and middle schools, Pleasant Avenue and Glebe Street elementary schools in Johnstown, HFM BOCES, Fulton-Montgomery Community College, and the Broadalbin-Perth, Fort Plain, St. Johnsville, Oppenheim and Canajoharie districts.

"They have a designated [container], and [Green Fiber] picks it up once a week," Greater Johnstown School District Superintendent Robert DeLilli said of his schools' involvement. "They issue a check. It goes to the PTAs, and it's obviously helping the kids in each building."

Ruberti said the program with Green Fiber covers most of Wheelerville's costs for its Character Education Program, which includes the "Good Citizen Awards" that have a coupon system for "catching students doing the right thing." Coupons are given to be redeemed at such places as the Canada Lake Store.

"We have a monthly prize for one student in grades kindergarten to two, one for a student in grades three to five, and one for a student in grades six to eight," Ruberti said.

He said Wheelerville has probably received about $75 from Green Fiber so far this year, and he anticipates receipt of about $300 by the end of the school year.

"It pays for our program," Ruberti said.

In Wheelerville's case, he said the school has its two dumpsters to the right of the school building.

He said the district has been sending letters to students' families to help with the effort. Green Fiber is providing old-fashioned grocery bags in which to bring paper to school, Ruberti said. The school also will be doing special Earth Day programs to encourage more recycling, he said.

He said Green Fiber even makes presentations to the schools.

"Kelli's great, she deals with all the schools," Ruberti said. "There's really no down side."

Driessen said Green Fiber is happy to assist with providing a stipend to the schools and helping to contribute to their programs. She said her company is based in Charlotte, N.C., and has eight plants nationwide.

But she said the program of working with about 200 to 250 schools across the Capital Region is fairly recent.

She said the effort also includes paper recycled from towns and churches.

"We've been doing this in the area since 2008," Driessen said.

Michael Anich can be reached at



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