It’s a major challenge for livestock producers like Kevin Lee, Magnolia, OH, to dispose of the waste plastic used to store and feed forage.
But a recycling program launched earlier this year by the Carroll County (OH) Farm Bureau offers Lee – who owns and manages a 240-cow dairy – a cost-efficient, environmentally friendly alternative for handling the plastic.
“We have plastic coming from somewhere just about every day,” he says. “We store haylage and silage in 10’ silo bags, have net-wrapped hay and heavy strings from 3 x 4 x 8’ bales of dry hay.”
Lee has been paying a local landfill to supply a large dumpster for his waste plastic while others have opted to burn it on their farms.
The Carroll County recycling program, however, connects producers with Terrecon Inc., a California-based company that uses the plastic waste to make interlocking sidewalks. Here’s how the program works:
• Farmers collect and store plastic in super sack bags provided by Farm Bureau. Each bag holds at least 800 lbs of material. Four neighboring counties have also set up programs.
• When the super sacks are full, farmers haul them to centralized collection points in their home counties. Lee delivers his bags to a farm supply store about eight miles from his farm. “We usually wait until we have a couple of bags loaded up. Then, when we’re going in that direction for something else, we’ll drop off the bags,” he says.
Once there’s enough material to fill a semi, the bags are shipped to a Terrecon plant in Indiana. The company picks up the transportation costs.
Lee doesn’t get paid for the plastic directly, but figures there could eventually be an economic benefit. “(It) could save us money because we won’t need such a large dumpster,” he says.
So far, around 100 farmers in the five counties have signed up, reports Bill Findley. He’s a Waynesburg, OH, livestock producer and Farm Bureau member who helped set up the program. “Farmers like the idea of recycling this stuff so that someone else can get some use out of it,” he says.
Terrecon is working with farm groups in Iowa, Indiana and Wisconsin on similar recycling programs. To learn more, read “From Ag Waste To Sidewalks“ and “Bagging Waste Plastics Works" in the November issue of Hay & Forage Grower.