No cig tax for schools? Try drink pouches!

With all the alarming news about the Philadelphia School District finances and whether the state legislature will or won't institute a cigarette tax to bolster funds,  there's one lovely little ray of good news:

The kids at the Shawmont School have earned more than $2,000 by collecting drink pouches and sending them to TerraCycle, the Trenton company that that takes difficult-to-recycle packaging and "upcycles" it into products.

Just how many did the kids collect? More than 18,000.

TerraCycle has an ingenious funding arrangement (school district may want to take note). Companies -- such as CapriSun -- fund all or part of the collection program. Schools or other groups in "brigades" collect the material, ship it to TerraCycle and then get "paid" a minimal amount for each item,

As you can see, it adds up.

Last fall, Capri Sun added prizes for collecting certain amounts, TerraCycle says. "Now, in addition to the money they earn for each piece of waste collected, participants can win prizes made from recycled drink pouches, such as park benches, recycling bins, a playground, and other fun rewards," the company said in a press release.

As of moments ago, according to a ticker on the company web site, nearly 28 million people are collecting trash for TerraCycle. More than 2.6 billion items have been collected. And $6.7 million has gone back to schools, charities and similar groups.