Large amounts of plastics are used these days to grow, process, and store agricultural crops. Most of it is discarded after one use. Very little is being recycled, in part because used agricultural plastics are often cumbersome to handle and rarely meet the specifications of plastics recycling markets. Few plastics processors are set up to handle them. Much of the used plastic has been burned in open fires, generating dioxins and other pollutants, or dumped in some out of the way place on-the-farm. Some plastic is buried in landfills, which wastes this valuable, energy-rich resource.
The Recycling Agricultural Plastics Project (RAPP), based at Cornell University, is working to change this picture by developing infrastructure, protocols and markets to recycle these difficult materials. RAPP collaborates with agriculture producers and agricultural, environmental, economic development and solid waste/recycling agencies, organizations and businesses.
Since 2009, RAPP has coordinated the collection of more than one million pounds of used plastic that would otherwise go into landfills, be burned in open fires on-farms, or get left behind in the fields.
RAPP - Update for NYS Farmers - Visit the link to learn more and how to recycle agricultural plastics.
Ken Estes Jr.
Agriculture Program Leader
Last updated March 7, 2023