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The impact of recycling can be hard to see for kids. Students at Riverside Middle School found a literal way to address that problem. 

Students turned over a six-foot tall plus cage of plastic to a local recycling company Friday, emptying a monolith that stood near the school entrance. 

"The more visual impact, the bigger the impression," said Cynthia Jessee, a former teacher and adviser for Builder's Club, the service group the organized the recycling effort. 

For students, the plastic-stuffed cage was a better representation of the school's recycling efforts than scattered, smaller receptacles. 

"It shows how much we can collect if we all work together," said eighth-grader Alyssa Castro. 

That's an impact that matters, seventh-grader Zach Nelson said, with the possibility of trash instead ending up in rivers and oceans. 

Recycling has come under a more business-like spotlight recently as China's move to stop importing recyclables about a year ago has put the squeeze on the U.S. recycling market. 

Scott Berens, the owner of Earth First Aid, helped students separate plastics by type and excludes those that couldn't be recycled. His business has been pinched to the point of layoffs, and other local companies have also been hurt.

Billings' residential city garbage collection system doesn't have a recycling service. That's part of where students said that recycling falls under the mission of a service organization like Builders Club. 

Students also do volunteer work for the Billings Food Bank and other charitable organizations. 

"Someone needs to do it," said seventh-grader Ruby Hampton. "It's not going to get done if we don't start now."

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Education Reporter

Education reporter for the Billings Gazette.