Rigid Plastic

Recycling Ag Plastics Project (RAPP): Life Cycle Stewardship of Agricultural Plastics

The Recycling Ag Plastics Project is developing infrastructure and markets for the waste film and rigid plastics that are generated from dairy, livestock, horticulture, maple syrup production and other sectors of agriculture. RAPP is working with partners from the agriculture and solid waste/recycling communities to develop full service ag plastic collection programs in New York State, and to figure out how to make these and other ag plastics recycling programs sustainable.

The collection of agricultural plastics for recycling (as well as for re-use and other value-recovery processes) has not been easy because they are typically dirtier than other used plastics, and may be contaminated by mixed resins and chemical residues. They are also bulky and widely dispersed across the rural landscape, all of which adds complexity and cost to collection. To jump these hurdles, RAPP is: (i) promoting farmer adoption of best management practices to keep ag plastic in condition to be recycled; (ii) acquiring mobile baling equipment to compact used plastic for cost-efficient transport from farms to recyclers; (iii) cultivating manufacturing markets to process used plastic into new products such as plastic lumber, roof tiles and sweet crude oil; (iv) promoting consumer purchase of products made from recycled ag plastics; and (v) facilitating an international dialog to further the product stewardship of agricultural plastics.

RAPP is a Cornell University-based collaboration with farmers and organizations, agencies and businesses representing agriculture, environmental protection, economic development, and solid waste/recycling. Funding has come from the NY Farm Viability Institute, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, US EPA Region 2 Pollution Prevention, USDA Rural Utilities Services/NEWMOA, USDA Hatch/Smith-Lever. On the web at http://environmentalrisk.cornell.edu/AgPlastics.