Recycling hay bale plastic wrap

MFA-Linn was recently awarded $10,000 to purchase a baler to be used for compressing agriculture plastic wrap waste left from hay bales.

Organizers say this is a first of its kind project in the state of Missouri. Finding a way to recycle the material would keep farmers from burning or burying the plastic wrap (the other available disposal methods).

Lelande Rehard from Mid-Missouri Solid Waste Management District was critical in identifying this opportunity from observing a similar project underway with dairy producers in Wisconsin. Rehard provided technical guidance throughout 2019 to help steer efforts in submitting a winning grant application through the Department of Natural Resources.

The mid-Missouri project was supported by John Gulick, a now-retired community development specialist with University of Missouri Extension. The new project is being supported by David Burton, a community development specialist with MU Extension located in Springfield.

For Greene and surrounding counties

Farmers in Greene, Polk, Dallas, Webster counties who have plastic wrap on hay bales and would be willing to participate in a similar program with a centrally-located baler need to write an email or letter of support.

Include an estimate of the number of bags you would recycle in that support letter and email it to David Burton at [email protected] or mail the letter to me at MU Extension, 2400 S. Scenic Ave., Springfield, MO 65807.

Area farmers who might be willing to serve as a test case for the project by personally demonstrating how the project could work—taking the plastic bags provided by Revolution Recycling and filling them with waste plastic they use hay bales—should also contact Burton.

Grant makes project possible

The Osage County proposal received major support from Osage County Farm Bureau, county commissioners, Osage County Extension Council, MFA-Chamois and Rosebud Tractor.

A total of 28 local farmers expressed interest in participating in this pilot project and shared how many bales they thought they would be contributing waste plastic from for the recycling baler.

The baler is installed at MFA-Linn, where Manager Michael Rost and his employees will use the baler to compress the bags into a bale. Once 40,000 pounds of compressed bales have been collected at MFA-Linn, Revolution Recycling of Arkansas will send a truck to pick up the material.

Revolution Recycling turns the recycled plastic into plastic pipe. While the Arkansas company will not pay MFA-Linn for the material, there will be no charge for picking up the material.

The key to making this work was to have a place that farmers were already going so they can get feed or other supplies and drop off their plastic at the same time.

The cleaner the wrap the more effective the recycling process is, but farmers should note that net wrap or twine under the plastic wrap, plastic jugs, or other waste materials cannot be accepted due to the fact that contamination by these items could result in the cancellation of this project.