Minnesota farmers can now recycle plastic wrap for free

Dive Brief:

  • Farmers in certain parts of Minnesota now have access to a service that collects agricultural plastic wrap free of charge, as reported by MPR News.
  • Revolution Plastics is providing bins and collection service for silage bags, bale wrap, bunker covers, oxygen barrier film, greenhouse plastics, irrigation tape and tubing and other types of low density polyethylene film. The material will be taken to a hub in Wisconsin and baled for transport to Arkansas, where it will be used to make new trash bags.
  • This has long been a priority of the Recycling Association of Minnesota, which is soliciting support from other farmers to hopefully expand the program statewide. Plastic wrap used to winterize boats is also a priority for collection.

Dive Insight:

The Recycling Association of Minnesota estimates that more than 10 million pounds of agricultural plastic may be generated in the state each year, with upward of 20 pounds being used per cow. Due to the quantity and bulky nature of the material it often accounts for a sizable portion of a farm's waste management expenses. Current disposal options include sending it to a landfill or waste-to-energy facility. Some farmers have also been known to bury or burn it on-site.

Revolution's program has seen success in neighboring Wisconsin and has been welcomed in Minnesota so far. Revolution's only main requirements are that farmers keep the material as clean as possible and remove any rocks, wood, twine or other waste that could damage recycling equipment.

Similar programs have also been established by recyclers in states such as California and Vermont. Researchers have estimated that billions of pounds of this material are used worldwide and only about 10% is recycled. As is the case with plastic film created for consumer use, this agricultural plastic can have a beneficial use in the form of new products when it's sorted properly and the regional economics line up to make it worthwhile.

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Filed Under: Recycling Waste Diversion
Top image credit: Depositphotos