CHARLOTTE, Mich. — Eaton County is part of a pilot program to recycle agricultural plastic film. It started in July but hasn't found many takers.
Each year Michigan farms send close to 6 million pounds of plastic film to the landfill.
To alleviate the impact, Eaton County became part of the Agricultural Plastic Film Recycling Pilot Program developed in partnership with the Michigan Recycling Coalition and Michigan Farm Bureau.
The project involves “setting up locations and hubs where these materials can be dropped off, and then at those hubs we collect specific types of plastic from agricultural commodities, such as bail plastic, pallet wrap, mulch film in certain instances, stretch wrap,” said project coordinator Katherine Fournier.
Since the pilot program started July, there’s been one participant and a second person who recently scheduled an appointment.
“I think a huge part of that is the early on aspect and not many people know about the program yet," said Morgan Feldpausch, the resource recovery coordinator in Eaton County. "We’ve been working on promotion. Word of mouth is a huge part of that. That and then just the general seasonality of materials I think...People might be too busy right now to bring them in or they might not be using them.”
Feldpausch encourages farmers to recycle these materials properly and says the county wanted to be involved in the pilot program because, “we want to be a part of moving recycling forward and a huge part of that is taking materials that we don’t take right now and especially ones that don’t have the huge acceptance widely around here."
The process to recycle the plastic films is pretty simple. All you have to do is fill out a registration form either online or by phone. This provides information on what you’re bringing so officials can get ready to take the materials. There is a charge of 8 cents per pound and the items are dropped off at Sunfield Township Recycling Facility.
Fournier said when these plastic films go to landfill they’re high volume materials that take up space.
“We don’t have unlimited space for trash and for garbage," Fournier said. "So if these materials can be broken down and turned into new products to end up back in our economy that’s going to be beneficial not only in terms of the environment but also Michigan’s local economy.”
Fournier said some of the materials can be turned into roofing, decking and sometimes other agricultural film products.
Feldpausch believes participation will go up as time goes on.
The pilot program is approved for a year, but if it's successful Feldpausch would like to keep it going for longer.
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