Photo: Lois Levitan, RAPP Recycling Agricultural Plastics: Logistic & Marketing Challenges, and Successes Lois Levitan Recycling Agricultural Plastics Program (RAPP) Dept Communication Cornell University Ithaca NY PENNSYLVANIA RECYCLING MARKETS CENTER: 2014 PLASTICS SYMPOSIUM - SUSTAINABLE MANUFACTURING & RECYCLING MARKETS SUMMIT - DEC 4, 2014
Photo: Lois Levitan, RAPP Recycling Agricultural Plastics: Logistic & Marketing Challenges, and Successes LEVITAN, CORNELL UNIVERSITY 2 Abstract: A forward-looking update and retrospective critique of logistical and marketing constraints to sustainable systems for recycling agricultural plastics. From experience we have learned much about characteristics of likely markets for these difficult-to-recycle materials, but advances in equipment, new approaches to processing, and changes in perceptions are turning some of the truisms of the past upside down. Increasing numbers of recyclers have the technical capacity and know-how to process agricultural plastics. Now the major constraints are the high cost to collect & transport from farms to markets, particularly outside of major agricultural hubs in FL & CA.
LEVITAN, CORNELL UNIVERSITY What Are Agricultural Plastics? Answer: Not any one thing. Many different film and rigid products used in all sectors of agriculture. Made from different resins, and mixes of resins, with additives. Many colors, multi-colored. Primarily PE, also PP, PS. PVC used historically; still some, particularly in imported products. 3 Flexible Intermediate Bulk Containers (F.I.B.C.) Boat Wrap
Photo: Lois Levitan, RAPP, taken Howland Farm, Candor NY, Spring 2006 Bale wrap Photos: Lois Levitan, RAPP (L)LDPE stretch film wrapped around an individual bale of hay or a line of hay bales. Usually all white. LEVITAN, CORNELL UNIVERSITY
Bunker silo cover Sheets of heavy duty black/white LDPE, some reinforced with embedded polyester string (skrim), some with EVOH oxygen barrier layer. Can be 10 or more layers, each with special characteristics. Photos: Lois Levitan, RAPP LEVITAN, CORNELL UNIVERSITY
Polytwine LEVITAN, CORNELL UNIVERSITY 6 Netwrap Polypropylene Polyethylenes & other Photoa: Lois Levitan, RAPP
Greenhouse, hoophouse, high tunnel covers Clear or white sheets of (L)LDPE. Some sheets glued together with non-recyclable adhesive. Photo: Lois Levitan, RAPP LEVITAN, CORNELL UNIVERSITY
Mulch film Strips of LDPE, typically ≤ 1 mil thick, 3’-5’ wide. White, black, silver, occasionally clear or other colors. Sometimes two color layers. Some with nylon or EVOH oxygen barrier layer. Lays on soil, gets very dirty. Photo: SkyPlastic USA 2011 Photo: Lois Levitan, RAPP LEVITAN, CORNELL UNIVERSITY
Maple syrup tubing Mostly LDPE tubing (some old PVC tubing) with fittings and ball valves of nylon, polycarbonate, rubber Photoa: Lois Levitan, RAPP LEVITAN, CORNELL UNIVERSITY 11
Pesticide containers, chemical drums HDPE. ACRC (Ag Container Recycling Council) oversees (with strict protocols) national network of collectors, processors, end-product manufacturers. Financed by pesticide manufacturers and distributors. 10 million lb collected 2014; 150 million lb since began in early 1990s. Photo: Lois Levitan, RAPP LEVITAN, CORNELL UNIVERSITY 12
also coveralls, boat wrap, manure pond liners, feed bags, F.I.B.C., etc., etc., etc. stream of new products with different quirky, characteristics Photos: Lois Levitan, RAPP LEVITAN, CORNELL UNIVERSITY 13
Increasingly complex Photos: Lois Levitan, RAPP Thin films with multiple extrusion layers, each with additives and colorants for specific agronomic or horticultural purposes: Block UV Reflect sunlight Repel insects Absorb heat EVOH O2 barrier Hold moisture Reinforce structure Prevent backwash Stretchability Stickiness Tensile strength Flexibility Rigidity Longevity Degradability LEVITAN, CORNELL UNIVERSITY 14 Silage bag
DIRTIER HDPE #2 LDPE #4 PP #5 PS #6 PVC #3 high density polyethylene low density polyethylene polypropylene polystyrene polyvinylchloride Containers for Dairy Sanitizers & Medicines Nursery Pots Greenhouse & Hoophouse Covers Bale Wrap CLEANER Mulch Film Silage & Grain Bags, Bunk Silo Covers Feed Bags Drip Tape Seedling Plug Trays Plumbing Pipes Used Agricultural Plastics Sorted by Resin & Typical Level of Contamination Nursery Pots Some Drip Tape & Irrigation Tubing Maple Tubing F.I.B.C. (a.k.a. Supersacks) Poly Irrigation Tubing Wood Pellet & Similar Bags Bale Net Wrap Twine Un-rinsed Pesticide Containers Placement on the ‘clean-dirty’ continuum is approximate. Recyclability improves with clean, dry plastic, free of grit and gravel. Old Maple Tubing Triple-rinsed Pesticide Containers Recycling Agricultural Plastics Program (RAPP), Cornell University, Ithaca NY. Lois Levitan, rev Nov
Why has recycling been difficult? Photo: Lois Levitan, RAPP Post-consumer Used & stored outdoors, in mud, rain & snow Often with residues of soil, plant debris, moisture, stones & grit Dispersal across rural landscape high collection costs Bulky Possible or perceived pesticide residues & soil pathogens LEVITAN, CORNELL UNIVERSITY 16 Photos: Lois Levitan, RAPP
Best Management Practices (BMPs) What not to do! Keep plastic clean and dry as possible Shake out pebbles & clumps of soil Roll or fold into pillow-sized bundles Store off ground, out of mud, grit, gravel Separate plastic by color and type 17 LEVITAN, CORNELL UNIVERSITY 17 Photo: Jim Zecca. Madison Co
LEVITAN, CORNELL UNIVERSITY Why should society & recyclers care about this particular set of plastics? Less than 2% of plastic discarded in US But possibly 10% of film* Very visible 2-10% When left in the fields catches in bushes, ditches, ravines Alternatives to recycling not pretty: burning, burying in fields bad for air & water quality Landfilling costly to society *based on VT data calculated by Annie Macmillan, VT Agency of Agriculture. 18 Plastic discarded in US Agr film
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F. Paul Vanderpool American Cierra Corporation 491 Grant Ave. Auburn, NY office m “Recyclers have learned how to recycle better” 20 Photo: Lois Levitan, RAPP
Horticultural Mulch Film: Before & After BEFORE WASHING 1 MINUTE LATER LEVITAN, CORNELL UNIVERSITY 21 Paul Vanderpool: “Recyclers have learned how to recycle better” Photo: Lois Levitan, RAPP
Mobile film reclamation system Cleans film ON-SITE, allowing flexibility in scheduling Bales film for shipment ON-SITE Self-contained, small footprint Meets all California power plant restrictions Cleans film with proprietary non– water processes High volume capacity Contact: Lloyd Gleaves, CEO , Mobile cleaning, baling, grinding equipment LEVITAN, CORNELL UNIVERSITY 22 Photo: Romall Ind
LEVITAN, CORNELL UNIVERSITY Agricultural Plastic Recycling Markets: Processors & Manufacturers 23 Large-scale. Small scale. Some vertically integrated. Some pick up. Some require drop-off. Only a few pay for material. Some will take-back their products after use and give credit for new purchases.
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LEVITAN, CORNELL UNIVERSITY Capacity to recycle 200 million lb/yr, with potential to double. Only (L)LDPE
LEVITAN, CORNELL UNIVERSITY 26 Recycling arm of Command Packaging. Opened late million lb/yr capacity (CA uses 150 mm lb/), Convert mulch film to 125x reusable smarterbags™. $3 million CA grant Nov’14. Recycling arm of Command Packaging. Opened late million lb/yr capacity (CA uses 150 mm lb/), Convert mulch film to 125x reusable smarterbags™. $3 million CA grant Nov’14.
LEVITAN, CORNELL UNIVERSITY 27 Opened Collect mulch film & drip tape from large Florida farms. Shred, clean, dry film. Sell to pelletizers worldwide. 40 million lb/yr at current site.
LEVITAN, CORNELL UNIVERSITY 28 California collection area only. Pay based on dry weight polyethylene tubing, 8¢/lb towards new orders, 4¢/lb cash.
LEVITAN, CORNELL UNIVERSITY 29 bridon cordage
LEVITAN, CORNELL UNIVERSITY 30 The Blackmore Company Call (800) about recycling polystyrene trays. The Blackmore Company Call (800) about recycling polystyrene trays.
LEVITAN, CORNELL UNIVERSITY 31 com/recycling-program Manufacture & recycle plant containers: HDPE, PP, PS. 10 million lb/yr recycling capacity
NBF Plastics: plywood substitute, PIMS technology, anticipate 1-2 million lbs/yr TERREWALKS® sidewalk pavers from agricultural bale wrap, thermokinetic processing Top skin: blue boat wrap Top skin: black & white silage bag film Top skin: maple tubing & fittings Core: Irrigation drip tape LEVITAN, CORNELL UNIVERSITY 32 TERRECON Dishashish Plastic Manufacturers LLC: garbage bags, ~ 20% recycled b/w silage bags (1 million lb/yr).
is Plastics-to-Oil a panacea for agricultural plastics recycling? PLASTICS RECYCLING CONFERENCE 2014 – LEVITAN, CORNELL UNIVERSITY 33
LEVITAN, CORNELL UNIVERSITY TAKE-HOME MESSAGES 34 Domestic markets now exist that can process used AP. Recycling markets typically put < value on the plastic than it costs to collect & transport. Social value of recycling is higher: Society now pays to cover costs of landfilling, open burning, burying on farms, leaving in fields. All benefit from conservation of resources & energy. Location. Location. Location. More options, less costly to recycle where farms (& use of plastic) are concentrated: FL, CA. Important role of regional markets as sink for co-mingled supply from underserved areas. New technologies and advances in processing equipment opening new recycling options.
35 Photo: Lois Levitan, RAPP LEVITAN, CORNELL UNIVERSITY 35 Lois Levitan, PhD Recycling Agricultural Plastics Program Department of Communication, Cornell University Ithaca NY