To recycle these materials, they must be properly prepared:
- Once the drip irrigation tape and mulch film is removed, shake it to remove the contaminants (soil, plant material, mulch plastic, twine). Excessive contaminants could cause the material to be rejected at the collection site.
- Growers have a choice: 1) Bundle the drip tape separately from the mulch film OR 2) the drip tape and mulch film can be commingled. If you choose to recycle the materials separately, the drip tape should be rolled up and tied with ONLY drip tape. Mulch film should be rolled up and tied with mulch plastic. DO NOT use twine, wire, etc. to tie the bundles. If any other material is used to tie the bundle, the load will be rejected.
- Store the drip irrigation tape and mulch film so it is not exposed to sunlight that will further degrade the material.
- Keep the material as dry as possible. If the material cannot be stored indoors, cover it with a sheet of plastic.
- Keep the plastic as clean as possible.
New Jersey growers generate thousands of tons of plastic each year at a cost of more than $50 per ton to dispose of the material at a landfill. Recycling these materials can reduce disposal costs and is better for the environment.
The New Jersey Department of Agriculture and Cumberland County Improvement Authority conducted a pilot recycling program for these materials in 2005. During the pilot program, five tractor trailers loads of material were collected from South Jersey growers and participants saved almost 50 percent in landfill tipping fees. Unfortunately, the mulch film recycling program had to be terminated when there no longer was a market for the material.
The Department has facilitated a year-round nursery and greenhouse film collection and recycling program since 1997. In addition, the Department also offers plastic pesticide container recycling.
To find out more about the new recycling opportunity and other agricultural recycling programs, call Karen Kritz at 609-984-2506 or visit the New Jersey Department of Agriculture Agricultural Recycling webpage at: www.nj.gov/agriculture/divisions/md/prog/recycling.html.