recycling agricultural plastics

OCCA is the local outreach coordinator for the statewide Recycling Agricultural Plastics Project (RAPP)based out of Cornell University. Since 2009, RAPP has helped recycle more than one million pounds of used plastic that would have otherwise gone into landfills or disposed on farms. Recycled agricultural plastics have been used to make diverse products including sidewalk pavers, plywood and lumber, oils and more.

Recycling agricultural plastic can save money and protect the environment. Landfill fees are costly, and the bulky plastic doesn't decompose well in a typical landfill environment. Open burning of plastic is illegal, and releases toxic chemicals that can have long-term impacts on health and the environment. Recycling is the best option for dealing with plastics.


To participate in RAPP, farmers need to follow these

best management practices to ensure that the plastic is recyclable:


• Shake out pebbles, gravel, and clumps of soil or feed

• Roll or fold the plastic into pillow-sized bundles, roughly 3'x3'

• Store plastic off the ground, out of mud, gravel and grit, and where it won't get wet

• Separate different plastics by color and type

(A full set of best management practices can be found here)


When you've accumulated about 1,000 pounds of any given type of plastic, contact OCCA to coordinate a visit from the Bigfoot Baler, operated by Otsego County Soil & Water Conservation District. It typically takes less than an hour to load and compact 1,000 pounds of loose plastic into a 40"x40" bale.


RAPP can currently accept many types of agricultural plastic: bale wrap; black and white silage bags and bunker silo covers; net wrap; bale twine; maple tubing; greenhouse covers; boat wrap. Plastic must be properly handled and stored to keep it relatively clean and dry. Farmers in the program use a variety of methods to store the plastic: large tote bags, old horse trailers, even specially-constructed crates.


OCCA is happy to work with you to develop an effective recycling program for your farm. Contact Program Director Jeff O'Handley at (607) 282-4087, or e-mail for more information or to get started.


Otsego County RAPP is a cooperative effort of Otsego County Conservation Association, Otsego County Soil & Water Conservation District and Cornell University. NYS RAPP is coordinated by the Cornell University Recycling Agricultural Plastics Project. Major funding is from the NYS Environmental Protection Fund, administered by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation.