It’s estimated that American farms use one billion pounds of plastic each year. Currently, only about 10% of those plastics are recycled. What kinds of products are being used? The list is long. It includes greenhouse covers, tubing, pipes, containers of all sorts, seed trays, drip tape, various films…”and everything we use to keep ourselves dry,” one farmer adds. Many of the products are designed for only one season’s use.
The challenge is what to do with the materials after they are used. And that’s providing market opportunities – particularly in recycling – for a number of companies.
There’s a growing recognition by farmers and others in the agricultural community of the need for environmentally responsible disposal solutions for these materials. The question, though, is how to do that with materials that are designed to not break down in rain, sun and heat, and that can — if burned or left to degrade — pose environmental health hazards.
This piece provides an excellent overview of the use of plastics in agriculture, and what the challenges are facing producers on a variety of fronts. A must-read.