EAST LANSING, Mich. — By now, greenhouse operations have gleaned the production areas of spring and early summer plant material. I have come across some operations that have deposited used and even un-used containers, flats or carrier trays in large dumpsters for recycling (Photo 1). At each operation, I have been asked about proper disposal of these horticultural plastics and the answer is easy— recycle (Photo 2)!
In other instances, I have come across garden-retail centers that accept and collect used containers from consumers (Photo 3). Regardless of where used plug or liner trays, containers or carrier trays come from, there is a possibility these horticultural plastics can be recycled.
The most common questions I receive are: “Can this be recycled?” and “Who accepts horticultural plastics for recycling?” Fortunately, many horticultural plastic companies will accept and recycle containers, and if it could not get any better, there may be a local horticultural plastic processor (Photo 4) and recycler near you. However, greenhouse glazing materials such polycarbonate from poly-covered greenhouses or plastic mulches or groundcovers from plasticulture may not be recyclable.
Table 1 describes various horticultural plastics and indicates how to distinguish between recyclable and non-recyclable forms. Table 2 lists plastic companies that accept used horticultural plastics for recycling.
For more information about horticultural plastics and recycling, Michigan State University Extension recommends these two articles:
- Problems with Plastics by Arthur Cameron and Thomas Dudek, Michigan State University
- Horticultural Plastic Recycling – The Future is Brighter by Arthur Cameron, Michigan State University
|Table 1. Types of horticultural plastics that can be recycled.|
|Plastic type||Horticultural plastics||Common uses||Can it be recycled?|
|#2||High-Density Polyethylene (HPDE)||Nursery containers||Yes, clean containers.|
|#4||Low-Density Polyethylene (LPDE)||Greenhouse-glazing material, plastic mulches||Yes, bale plastics for easy handling and transport.|
|#5||Polypropylene (PP)||Pots||Yes, relatively or completely clean.|
|#6||High Impact Polystyrene (HIPS)||Plug and liner trays, flats, carrier trays||Yes, clean flats and trays.|
|Table 2. Example list of plastic companies that accept horticultural plastics for recycling.|
1001 40th Street, S.E.
Grand Rapids, MI 49508
|Grand Rapids Iron & Metal
1701 Clyde Park S.W. #15
10800 Blackmore Avenue
Belleville, MI 48111
|Granger Recycling Center
16980 Wood Rd
8801 Frazier Pike
|East Jordan Plastics, Inc.
6400 M-32 Highway
|Mondo Polymer Technologies
27620 State Route 7
13650 172nd Ave.,
— W. Garrett Owen, Michigan State University Extension
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