CHARLOTTE, Mich. — Farms in Michigan send close to 6 million pounds of plastic film to the landfill each year, now Eaton County is trying to do something about it.
The county is part of the new Agricultural Plastic Film Recycling Pilot Program, developed in partnership the Michigan Recycling Coalition and Michigan Farm Bureau.
Film plastic reduces crop failure, said project coordinator Katie Fournier, and has many other uses besides, "for silage and grain bags and that's basically to store materials in. We've got bunker silo covers, which are used to store animal feed and hay typically. We've got greenhouse film which is basically those clear covers that go over the top of greenhouses."
Fournier said there are 47,000 farms in Michigan, and most use this type of film.
"Until we see products that use less plastic to do these really necessary tasks, we need to find a way to take that material which is sometimes thousands of pounds, or you know great big amounts from farms and use it for another product right now," she said.
This is the first agricultural film recycling project of its kind in the state.
Fournier said they did a study at the start of the program to gauge how farmers were disposing of plastic film and found that, in Michigan, about 27 percent were storing it for longer than four months.
"When that's stored on people's properties, and they don't know what to do with it, you know it breaks down," Fournier said. "Little microplastics end up back in the environment, and they pollute the water table and soil health around the area, which is never good."
Those interested in recycling agricultural film plastic should be able to drop off their items by the end of May at the Sunfield Township Recycling Facility. There is a user fee of 8 cents per pound.
"It's really about setting up some of the logistics of that, fine tunings that we can educate everyone on how to prepare the material when they're dropping it off," she said. "And then also that they have an easy way to sign up for an appointment for dropping off material because, unlike other materials at that site, we do need to know ahead of time that we're getting a load of that type of plastic."
Morgan Feldpausch, the resource recovery coordinator in Eaton County, is encouraging farmers to use the service.
"Environmental stewardship is my biggest one because these materials end up in landfills. We have finite numbers of natural resources available to us, including things like plastic, and this material is going to be capable of making new materials," Feldpausch said.
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