It's called the Agricultural Plastics Recycling Program. JBI Inc. is a Niagara Falls based company that's turning plastic into oil. And Madison County has just signed a contract to supply the county's agricultural plastics to JBI.
"There are many advantages to using plastic on farms but no one was thinking about what you do at the end of their life," says Lois Levitan, project leader for Recycling Agricultural Plastics Project (RAPP) for Cornell University.
Plastic containers, trays, and covers are often used on farms .
"The plastic is a good sealer material. I use it on a daily basis," says Rick Carrier, ABC Farms owner.
In the past, farmers had no choice but to burn or bury these plastics, but in 2009 the state made this process illegal, and for good reason.
"Environmental quality translates into public health. If we're breathing in toxins, that increases asthma, increases strokes, increases heart disease, so it was very important to stop that cycling," says Levitan.
Since then, Madison County has been looking for a solution.
"What we've been looking for our manufacturers and processors who have the technology that can take a mix of plastics and a little dirt doesn't bother them," says Levitan.
"And that's where JBI came in; to make it economically feasible to collect the material, bale the material, and ship it to the various markets," says Jim Zecca, Madison County Director of the Dept. of Solid Waste and Sanitation.
ABC Farms is serving as the poster child for the ag. plastics collection. They say its a win-win for their farm and the community.
"Central New York is an ag. based community. I mean the fact that they can make something useful out of all this material we throw away is a good thing," says Carrier.
Organizers say they've already begun reaching out to surrounding counties and Carrier thinks it will catch on among farmers.
"Our land is our living. I think you'll find farms will be interested in utilizing this program and putting this stuff to good use," says Carrier.
Coordinators hope the program will expand with support from surrounding counties. And eventually, their ultimate goal is to have JBI establish a plastic-to-oil facility right here in Central New York.
For more information:
Contact Madison County Dept. of Solid Waste at (315) 361-8409