Yes! You can deliver them to a recycler yourself, join in with a neighbor who may also have agricultural plastics, or work with other colleagues to develop a convenient consolidation site. For assistance with these or other options, contact WRP.
Sometimes. Your geographic proximity to a plastics recycler, as well as the quantities you have accumulated, will play a large role in whether recycling your old agricultural plastics can save you money. If you have truckload quantities of clean plastic, these materials are valuable to a recycler, and you can often negotiate a payment or a no-cost collection of the material. These financial benefits, especially when combined with avoided disposal costs, can make ag plastic recycling a win-win for you and the recycler. Businesses that have smaller quantities or materials that are mixed with different plastic types will have a harder time making the economics work in your favor, but the avoided disposal cost and potential marketing of a “greener” product can still make it worthwhile. For assistance with weighing the costs and benefits of agricultural plastics recycling, contact WRP.
Agricultural plastics are more difficult to recycle than residential or industrial plastics because of the moisture, dirt, and other debris that is often associated. The risks to the recycler include damage of expensive equipment or loss of reputation among the end markets that ultimately use the material. However, a minor amount (~5%) of moisture or dirt can be tolerated for overwintering film and pots, for black mulch film and drip tape up to 50% dirt might even be tolerated. However, the recycler that takes your black mulch film will not offer payment. Be sure to talk with your recycler about the potential contaminants that may be in your material, and provide pictures that are an accurate representation.
The recycler is in business, too, and has to sell the material to get any profit. The market values of plastics do vary. Generally, if the recycler is processing the material at the recycling facility, the payment might be greater than a broker who is baling and sending it to someone else for processing. However, the brokers can work as important consolidation sites of materials. If the recycler is processing, he will pay out on the usable product that is generated at the end, minus any costs incurred such as haulage, labor costs for sorting materials, etc..
For example; if the plastic you send to the recycler contains 5% dirt, he will pay 5% less than the tonnage on the truck that was sent to him.
If the recycler has difficulty sorting the material and it costs him more in labor, he will deduct these costs from his payout to you.
If you send a truck to him that is only ¾ full, it will cost more in haulage per ton. You will have a deduction from your payout for this.
For these reasons, you might not be given a price beforehand. Often the recycler will say, “I’ll take a load and see how it works.” If it works out well, the recycler will pay out and ask for more. If this happens – nurture this relationship – you are both on a winning streak!
Sometimes, if the material is clean, has not become brittle from the sun, no contaminants such as nails, etc. Alternatively, the recycler may pick up truckload quantities for free.
The recycler may be prepared to stop at one to three farms to pick up material for free, so talk to your neighbors and work together to get a truckload.
Waste Reduction Partners is aware of the need for consolidation sites. They are working closely with DEACS and the DACS to identify consolidation sites. As they become worked out, they will be listed on this web site.
The portion of the public that has spare money to buy plants will often preferentially choose a greener product. Household recycling rates in North Carolina have increased in recent years.
Call Waste Reduction Partners. Our volunteers will come and visit you for free and help you work out a solution.
The answer is dependent on what is available in your community.