Lake County residents have blown the lid off a competition to collect plastic bottle caps that will be turned into benches.
The Lake County Solid Waste Management District is preparing to receive as many as 4 tons of plastic tops collected by everyone from elementary school students to senior citizens since last spring.
They will be shipped to Green Tree Plastics Inc., of Evansville, which will make them into 20 plastic benches that will be returned to Lake County for use by those who took part in what Angela Petyko, education coordinator for the solid waste district, calls Capathon 2013.
"My goodness, I didn't expect everybody to jump on this the way they did so quickly. It is definitely raising awareness of recycling," she said.
She said the district announced last spring it would donate the $200-per-bench manufacturing price to any group willing take the plastic cap recycling challenge.
"The groups get to keep the benches, and seven already are spoken for. The city of Crown Point has reached 400 pounds. Lowell High School and residents of Leroy are collecting," she said.
Collections also are taking place in East Chicago, Hammond, Merrillville and Munster as well as among students at Whiting High School, including members of the school's National Honor Society.
"The Golden Manor Senior Apartments in Hammond have collected enough to earn two benches, over 800 pounds of caps. They were the first group to reach their goals, even before high schoolers," Petyko said.
She said collections will end in late December. It is hoped the benches will be built and in place by Earth Day in April.