Which horticultural plastics can be recycled and where?

By now, greenhouse operations have gleaned the production areas of spring and early summer plant material. W. Garrett Owen of MSU writes: "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)!"


Photo 1. Greenhouse operation recycling used containers. All photos by W. Garrett Owen, MSU Extension

"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."


Photo 2. Plastic horticultural containers selected to be recycled.


Photo 3. Garden-retail center accepting used containers from consumers.

"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."


Photo 4. Used horticultural plastic containers are chipped to be repurposed into new horticultural plastics by a Michigan company.

Read more at MSU Extension

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