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On the Bright Side

September 3, 2013

Totes to help farmers recycle plastic

(Continued)

CCE has collabored with Delaware County Waste Management to store the totes on site until they can be delivered for recycling. 

“When we have a truckload, a shipment will be made to the recycle plant in Auburn,” said Sue McIntyre, Director of Delaware County Waste Management.

 Each tote can weigh up to 500 pounds; a truck can carry 20,000 pounds. 

The entire operation is cost-neutral to the county, but McIntyre hopes to see that change. 

“Currently, the truck delivery cost will be absorbed by the recycler in Auburn,” McIntyre said. “Although recycling farm plastic doesn’t generate any revenue yet, the Delaware County Waste Management has successfully and profitably entering the recycling market with other products. Recycling is the future and as the farmers follow the standard it will become a valid market.”

And for farmers who participate in the program, disposing of plastic for free is a welcome change from the status quo. During economic lows, landfill costs deter some farmers from disposing of the plastics. Plastic that isn’t disposed of in a landfill might wind up being illegally burned, or simply left on the farm.

“The RAPP is a legal and more sustainable alternative as to what to do with the farm plastics,” McIntyre said. “Otherwise, it will cost $87 per ton to dispose the plastics in the landfill.”

Kiraly acknowledged that, for some farmers, getting into the habit of turning in their totes will be an adjustment. 

 “It will be a catch-up for some farmers who haven’t taken the plastics to the landfill on a regular basis,” she said. “But, there is no cost to the farmers to get rid of the plastics when they belong to the recycling program.”

While there is no price tag attached, some training is necessary. Kiraly, who was trained through Cornell along with Janet Aldrich, explains that plastic must be clean and separated in accordance with certain guidelines.  

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