Seen here, Arnold Underwood stands with one year’s worth of recycled plastic bags at Burgett Farms in Tully, which participates in the Recycling Agricultural Plastics Project through Cornell Cooperative extension.
There is potential to recycle plastics from the agricultural and horticultural industries in Onondaga County. Plastics available for recycling typically originate from these industries and uses:
Agriculture: silage bags and bunk silo covers on dairy farms, bale wraps, twines, containers.
Fruit and Vegetable: row covers, mulch films, pesticide and herbicide containers.
Maple: tubing and product packaging.
Horticultural: greenhouse covers, seedling trays and plant containers.
One of the biggest challenges to recycling sheets or “wrap” plastics is that these plastics are bulky and often times covered with soil, vegetation, pebbles, moisture, and other foreign objects. All of these “contaminants” limit the suitability and value for reprocessing these plastics into new value added products.
If you are interested in recycling plastics, you will need to do the following:
—Avoid getting mud/manure on plastics (as much as practical) and shake or brush off as much forage, soil, stones as possible;
—Roll up or fold dry plastic films/wraps into bundles about the size of 2’x3’and store in a dry place;
—When storing plastics, do not mix different plastics of different colors or cleanliness;
—Triple rinse any plastic chemical containers;
—Label, with permanent marker, the type, material, date, contact phone number and farm name/location on all bales after they are produced.
Identify suitable dry storage for your bales. Remember, you may have to store these bales for a period of time because it takes 1,000 to 1,200 pounds of material to make one bale. Bale wrap from a single bale will weigh about three pounds, so a farm using three round bales a day would be able to make a recycling bale every 120 days (four months). And, it takes 40 bales to fill a tractor trailer for economical shipping to a recycling center. Accordingly, nearby farms should consult each other to combine their waste plastic resources to make recycling more economical.