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Dave Brigante

 Conquer your own mountain of -

Recyclable Nursery Plastic

by Dave Brigante, Oregon USA
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One day many years ago, I looked around the nursery (Hughes Water Gardens) and it struck me that all sorts of plastic were going to waste. I had been personally doing my part by recycling my milk jugs, butter tubs, water bottles, and most other acceptable plastics for a long time. I couldn't help but wonder why there wasn't anywhere to recycle all of the plastic that was being used here at the nursery to produce and sell our plant wares. So, I began to research avenues available to go in the "right direction" as far as our abundance of plastic was concerned. 

I contacted the offices of the Oregon Association of Nurseries and they told me about a plastic recycling company that was just getting started. This company, Agri-Plas, Inc. was just down the freeway from our location so I arranged to visit owner Dari Jongsma. She was more than willing to meet with me to talk about what kinds of plastics they would accept and how we needed to prepare them for pick-up. We have been celebrating this win-win relationship ever since.

Although we are certainly not the biggest fish in the sea (where there is way too much plastic already, by the way) we contribute anywhere from six to ten very full and concentrated pallets of assorted plastics annually. We attempt to reuse all that we can but, between breakage and the UV damage that the sun causes to our products, the need to recycle plastic does occur. Our list of recyclables is somewhat short compared to what Agri-Plas will ultimately process, but here is what I see that we can donate: greenhouse film, plastic pots of all sizes, plant tags, triple rinsed pesticide containers, nursery flats, plastic twine, plastic buckets and their lids, shrink wrap and an occasional plastic pallet. Keeping our soon-to-be-recycled plastics organized is a challenge but it is well worth the extra effort to keep it out of the local landfills.

I feel very fortunate to have this resource here in Oregon, USA, and would highly recommend that, if you do not have a similar program in place in your area, you consult your local recycling firms to see if they may be interested in getting something started for the nursery industry where you live. On another note, I am happy to report that we just started requiring a 5 cent deposit on all plastic water bottles here to add to our already very well entrenched bottle law which has been in place since the seventies -- toot toot.

So please go forth and conquer your own potential mountains of recyclable plastics and help to keep it out of the solid waste stream (or any other stream for that matter).

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