Change often starts with our children.  As yesterday’s children have become today’s young adults, more of them are environmentally conscious than previous generations.  The more we focus on teaching environmental sustainability for young people, the better it will be for all of us.

That’s why Pak-Sher created the “BOB”  (Bag of Bags) Program.

Pak-Sher is a manufacturer of plastic bags and kitchen prep items serving the foodservice industry.  Since 2011, Pak-Sher has been working with local schools in Kilgore, Texas to recycle plastic bags.

The concept is simple, but the impact is far-reaching.  Each semester, children at Kilgore Primary, Kilgore Chandler, and Kilgore Intermediate collects plastic bags.  They stuff about 75 bags into one bag and bring them in to school.  Each BOB (Bag of Bags) gets a student a raffle ticket.  Students can win weekly prizes, including movie tickets.  At the end of each semester, the girl and boy at each school that brought in the most BOBs win a Kindle Fires and $25 Amazon gift card.

This year, more than 2,000 pounds of recyclable materials have been collected.  That’s more than 130-thousand plastic bags kept out of the landfill.  Bags are recycled, or used for events like the book fair at Chandler school run by librarian Judy Wiggins.

The “BOB” team visits each school to share the message throughout the school year.  Pak-Sher also invites 5th graders to tour the plant and learn more about helping the environment.  Andy Adams coined the term “BOB” as a fun and easy way for kids to understand what the program is all about when he was Principal at Kilgore Intermediate in 2011.  The students see first-hand how the “Bag of Bags” can be ground up into resin, made into a plastic film, which can be printed and converted into new (recycled) bags.

“When it comes to environmental sustainability, we care about our planet. Period,” said Terry Gebhardt, VP and head of Sustainability at Pak-Sher.  “We know that’s probably not something you’d expect to hear from a manufacturer of plastic bags.”

Across the country, groups are trying to ban single-use bags are sweeping the nation.  Many manufacturers are fighting that effort.

“That’s not our style,” said Gebhardt.  “We believe what’s good for the environment is good for business. That means we do our absolute best to help our customers and our community find sustainable solutions that work for everyone.”

Each year, more than 100 billion plastic shopping bags are used in the U.S.  Only a small percentage – roughly 3% – are recycled.  Yet, recycled bags can be used to make new bags.  Plastic bags can also be made into new products as diverse as plastic lumber, park benches, or playground equipment.  Each time a recycled bag is used, the energy needed to produce the product is reduced, as is the oil consumption.

Pak-Sher has an unwavering commitment to constantly improve its manufacturing process to develop new compostable products, as well as increase the amount of recycled content in its products.  Getting children at three schools to bring plastic bags for recycling instead of tossing them in the trash can lead to a generation of environmentally-conscious adults.

What’s happening in Kilgore, TX is just the beginning.  Pak-Sher would like to partner with more schools across the country and expand the “BOB” Program dramatically.  Any communities or school interested in joining the cause, can contact Terry Gebhardt, VP and Head of Sustainability at Pak-Sher.