Agricultural plastics recycling on the rise
Many N.C. growers reuse their old agricultural plastics such as pots and overwintering films, but for some, reuse is not an option or there comes a point when the plastics cannot be used any more.
Taking old ag plastics to the landfill costs money, but now some growers are recycling their used agricultural plastics, saving on tipping fees as well as benefiting the environment.
Since May 2012, 1,800 tons of discarded agricultural plastics including pots, flats, hoop-house film, drip tape, black mulch film and growing media bags have been diverted from landfills and sent to recycling facilities. N.C. growers have saved over $75,000 in tipping fees. In addition, some recyclers offer payments to growers for their recyclables.
For growers with truckload quantities of agricultural plastics, recycling is a realistic, cost-effective option. For growers with less than a truckload, recycling is more of a challenge.
Waste Reduction Partners has joined with the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the N.C. Nursery and Landscape Association and the Division of Environmental Assistance and Customer Service to find more opportunities to recycle agricultural plastics in the state. These efforts led to recognition by the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission of the importance of agricultural plastics recycling to both N.C. growers and the N.C. recycling industries.
WRP is a team of volunteer retired engineers, and scientists who provide N.C. businesses with waste- and energy-reduction assessments and non-regulatory technical assistance. WRP volunteers work closely with DEACS to find recyclers in North Carolina, and also work with NCDA&CS and NCNLA to understand the growers’ needs and help find solutions for recycling their agricultural plastics. The N.C. agricultural plastics recycling group is working hard to identify and expand consolidation sites linked to a N.C. recycler with a domestic market.
From this work a new website ncagplastics.org has been developed as a resource for growers and recyclers to find solutions for agricultural plastics. As the project evolves, more information will be placed on this website, including:
- An interactive map of N.C. recyclers
- Information on how to collect different agricultural plastics for recycling
- Where to find a consolidation site
- How to collect different plastic wastes for recyclers
- Useful resources
- Frequently Asked Questions
If you need free assistance on how to recycle your plastics, contact bfermor@tjcog or 919-597-0698.