Delivering recycled Ag plastics from Chenango County to Madison County, 2013.

Delivering recycled Ag plastics from Chenango County to Madison County

Disposing of agricultural plastics is a big challenge for farmers and communities.

Bales of plastic plant pots crushed by the "Bigfoot Baler" from Cornell's Recycled Ag Plastics Project (RAPP) at CCE-Tompkins' annual Gardener's Pot Swap event.
Image by Sandy Repp

Plastic nursery pots crushed by RAPP's "BigFoot Baler"

Label on the "Bigfoot Baler" from Cornell's Recycled Ag Plastics Project (RAPP)
Image by Sandy Repp

Label on the side of RAPP's "BigFoot Baler"

Agricultural Plastics Recycling

A small dairy farm, feeding an average of one large wrapped bale a day, is likely to generate 1000 pounds of plastic in a season. In Chenango County, there are about 70 active dairy farms feeding baleage. Not all of the farms produce agricultural plastics, but many do and have the potential to contribute to our efforts to recycle agricultural plastics. Chenango and Broome Counties now are partnering with the NYS Recycling Agricultural Plastics Project (RAPP) and to recycle these plastics.

Recycling offers farmers a good option for disposing of their plastic, an alternative to illegal burning, messy dumping and expensive landfill tipping fees. Since 2009, RAPP has collaborated with numerous local agencies, organizations, businesses and farmers across New York State to collect more than 1 million pounds of used plastic that otherwise would have gone into landfills, been burned in pollution-generating open fires, or been left behind in the fields. These collected agricultural plastics are made into sidewalk pavers, plastic lumber, oils, waxes and other products.

What is included under the “agricultural plastics” umbrella? In addition to bale wrap, sileage and grain bags, bunker silo covers, bale netting, polytwine, feed and pellet bags, irrigation tubing, drip tape, maple tubing, green and hoop house covers, nursery pots and seedling trays, mulch and fumigation films, tarps, netting, rigid containers, seed and fertilizer bags, bee hive frames and many more plastics can be recycled.

RAPP has developed markets to recycle most of these products if the plastic is prepared for recycling appropriately. RAPP hopes to ensure best management practices (BPM’s) for preparing agricultural plastics for proper recycling. RAPP’s BMP’s are easy when you keep the following in mind:

  1. Keep plastic as clean and dry as possible
  2. Shake out any pebbles and clumps of soil and debris
  3. Roll or fold the plastic into 3’x 3’ pillows or bundles
  4. Store the plastic off the ground, out of mud, gravel and grit
  5. Separate different types of plastic by color and type

Some local farms are already taking on the initiative to recycle their agricultural plastics.

To find out more about the state wide initiative visit:


Rich Taber
Grazing/Ag Economic Development Specialist
(607) 334-5841 ext. 1121

Last updated January 8, 2019