Ag plastics recycling program takes off
ELLSWORTH -- The road leading into the Pierce County Solid Waste Department was lined with trucks and trailers Monday, Dec. 5 as farmers waited to get a free dumpster to bring home.
For farmers wondering what to do with used bale wrap, ag/grain bags, bunker covers, oxygen barrier films, used irrigation tape and tubing, greenhouse or hoophouse coverings, fumigation and other cover films, Revolution Plastics offered an opportunity.
The company will collect ag and silage plastic from farms and dairies for recycling for free, depending on a farm’s location and plastic use.
Revolution Plastics, a subsidiary of Delta Plastics, has been manufacturing and recycling plastic agricultural films for the past 20 years in Arkansas, and has successfully operated this program in Green County in southern Wisconsin for the past two years.
Collected agricultural films are baled and shipped back to Revolution Plastic’s processing plant in Arkansas, where they are washed and sent through a machine that melts the plastic to create pellets. These pellets are then used to manufacture industrial trash can liners.
About 55 farmers from Pierce County were expected to receive their dumpsters Monday, said Director of Operations Price Murphy. Once on the farm, Revolutions Plastics employees service the containers as needed.
“They produce plastic every day, so the dumpsters may as well stay right on the farm,” Murphy said.
The Pierce County Solid Waste/Recycling location in Ellsworth served as the volunteer host to Revolution Plastics as its team distributed the receptacles.
Pierce County Solid Waste/Recycling Administrator Steve Melstrom was pleased with the number of farmers who signed up for the program, crediting word-of-mouth referrals, Rod Webb at the Pierce County Land Conservation Department and Katie Christenson, agriculture education teacher and FFA advisor at Ellsworth High School.
“Now they (farms) won’t have that stuff blowing around anymore,” Melstrom said of the plastic.
Murphy said Revolution Plastics currently collects about 1 million pounds of plastics per month in the Midwest.
“I expect that number to soon go north of 20 million pounds per year,” Murphy said.
In recent years, many dairy farmers are converting to the use of plastic silage bags and bale wrap to store feed instead of silos. Row after row of white silage bags line area farm fields.
Burning agricultural films and other waste materials is illegal in Wisconsin, and doing so results in uncontrolled toxic emissions into the air.
To implement the free program, the initial process starts with an 8‐yard dumpster that will be placed at farms that produce 3,000 pounds or more of agricultural films each year. Farms that produce less than 3,000 pounds are highly encouraged to partner with neighboring farms to share a dumpster and combine volumes.
Revolution Plastics will establish a schedule to collect the films and can offer on‐call services for larger operations.The company is in the process of looking for real estate to construct a facility that would service an 80-mile radius, Murphy said.
The program has been popular in Wisconsin since it began in June, Murphy said. In Marathon County, he distributed more than 50 dumpsters in less than 45 minutes before running out.
Farmers are encouraged to volunteer by signing up online at www.revolutionplastics.com or by calling 844-490‐7873. Melstrom said people should also check there for area employment opportunities.