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Local News

September 3, 2013

Totes to help farmers recycle plastic

Kermit the Frog sang “It’s Not Easy Being Green,” but for Delaware County farmers, it just got a whole lot easier. 

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Delaware County is rolling out a simpler way for farmers to participate in a program that recycles waste plastic. The Recycling Agricultural Plastics Project, which began as a pilot project in Delaware County in May, is a program of the statewide Extension service. 

Since 2009, Cornell University Waste Management has been working with Extension Offices to enlist farmers in RAPP. Farmers are trained to prepare plastics for recycling. The plastics are baled to reduce air pockets and make for better transportation. 

Many farmers and Extension staff people are trained to operate mobile BigFoot plastic balers, located around the state. The baler is serving farmers in Otsego County, where the Otsego County Conservation Association is heading up the RAPP program. (For information on Otsego’s program, call Travis Sauerwald of OCCA at 282-4087.)

“But the BigFoot baler has to be scheduled, and time use is limited,” said Larry Burgin, dairy farmer in Fraser. 

So the Delaware County office is now offering tote bags to participating farms. According to Delaware CCE director Mariane Kiraly, farmers can fill the totes with used plastic at their convenience, and turn them in when they’re full. 

“The program in Delaware County has moved a few steps closer to more efficiency,” Kiraly said of the change. 

Burgin praised the switch, noting that “The tote method is more accessible. It allows us to store the plastics on the farm, and we can do it on a daily basis.”

The purpose of the totes is to keep the plastic clean and remove the step of coordinating the use of a mobile baler or any baler at all. “When they are full, we take the totes to the Delaware County landfill station in Walton,” Burgin said. 

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