A process that would be a plastics recyclers nightmare may help farmers deal with the disposal of agricultural and domestic plastics by creating burnable, energy-efficient plastic nuggets, according to a Penn State agricultural engineer.
"In plastics recycling there are two unbreakable rules," says James W. Garthe, instructor in agricultural engineering and cooperative extension specialist. "You cannot mix types of plastic, and the plastics must be clean. This process does both since mixed plastics burn just fine and the dirt and debris come out with the coal ash anyway."
Agricultural plastics, such as mulch films, greenhouse films and pots, flats and silage wraps are universally dirty, and the cost of cleaning them before recycling would be expensive. Also, while mulch and greenhouse films are generally low-density polyethylene, nursery pots are polypropylene and soda bottles and milk jugs are polyethylene terephthalate and high-density polyethylene respectively. The plastics found on farms, nurseries and landscape yards are a variety of plastics that would never be mixed in conventional recycling.
Andrea Elyse Messer | EurekAlert!
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